Kosciusko County, the Kosciusko County Community Foundation, K21 Health Foundation and local communities are joining forces to complete a one-of-a-kind update to the County’s current 1996 Comprehensive Plan. Over the course of the next year, residents, community leaders and community organizations are being asked to come together to discuss local challenges, identify unique community features and determine how Kosciusko County and the local communities can grow, evolve and improve.
A comprehensive plan is a guidance document for future growth and development that frequently focuses on the next 10 to 20 years. It serves as a roadmap for effective decision making in both private development projects and community initiatives for the public good. The key components of a comprehensive plan include a snapshot of current conditions, a vision for the future, and recommendations of how to achieve the vision and goals outlined within the document.
FORWARD Kosciusko County will serve as the County’s comprehensive plan and will include detailed information and recommendations on local and county-wide land use, government and fiscal capacity, public utilities, facilities and services, placemaking, housing, transportation, agriculture, natural resources, parks and recreation, trails, and downtown revitalization. The final plan is intended to inform decision making related to capital and non-capital improvements through the creation of a new Kosciusko County Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).
A comprehensive plan alone does not ensure change will occur. It must be implemented on a daily basis by elected officials, commission members, city staff and local stakeholders. FORWARD Kosciusko County is intended to encourage cooperation, collaboration and continued, shared investment amongst all implementation partners.
FORWARD Kosciusko County is intended to represent all of us and will be OUR tool to build a better future together.
In 1990, Lilly Endowment Inc. launched the Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT) initiative to help establish and further develop community foundations throughout Indiana. The Endowment supported various GIFT initiatives since 1990, all designed to strengthen Community Foundations and their ability to meet needs in their communities. The Kosciusko County Community Foundation (KCCF) successfully completed the first six GIFT initiatives.
In 2018, the Endowment announced the seventh phase of Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT VII). As part of GIFT VII, the KCCF was awarded, in March 2019, a Community Leadership Planning Grant to undertake a county-wide citizen outreach.
Between July and August 2019, KCCF contracted Becker Consulting to conduct eleven Hometown Chats, inviting citizens to share concerns and aspirations for their communities and compare broad community input with issues previously identified by KCCF’s board and community leaders. Additionally, KCCF staff facilitated a chat with the Chamber of Commerce’s Young Adult Professionals members to solicit input from young community leaders. The top four issues that were identified in the Hometown Chats were: the need for community planning and long term visioning, access to affordable housing, access to local childcare, and workforce preparation. The number one priority identified was the need for community planning and long term visioning, which is why the community has prioritized the multi-jurisdictional comprehensive plan.
With one of the top priorities being Community Planning and Visioning, KCCF, Kosciusko County and K21 Health Foundation, in partnership with the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG), came together to invest in a multi-jurisdictional strategic planning process aimed at identifying the unique, local assets and challenges. The analysis of these assets and challenges would help in establishing a shared vision and creating an actionable plan for the communities to achieve their goals.
In June of 2020, MACOG, initiated the pre-planning process by bringing together the project steering committee to discuss the overall process, the intended outcomes and the development of the request for proposals to assist in the selection of a planning consultant. A final planning consultant team led by Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group was selected in December of 2020.
The FORWARD Kosciusko County process will occur over a span of 12-14 months and, when complete, will create a shared vision for future growth and development, encompass meaningful and inclusive public engagement, identify stakeholders, establish clear guidance with a user-friendly document and establish achievable implementation plans. The process will include four key phases of work, each of which have a variety of community engagement and outreach opportunities.
PHASE ONE: COMMUNITY CALL TO ACTION
LAUNCHING THE PROJECT
Launching the project. A long-range planning effort can be a daunting and confusing task for community residents and stakeholders. At times, the terminology that we as professionals use to describe our process and purpose does not resonate with the individuals, which results in minimal input and public engagement. During this first phase of work, in partnership with the Outreach Committee, our goal is to inform the residents and stakeholders of Kosciusko County of the project and build momentum and excitement around the process.
ESTIMATED TIMELINE: JANUARY 2021 TO FEBRUARY 2021
PHASE TWO: INFORMATION GATHERING
LEARNING. ANALYZING. EDUCATING.
This initial effort is intended to produce a snapshot of the existing conditions of the area, analyze existing infrastructure and the regulatory environment, and recognize past successes in order to begin planning for the future. The research within this initial phase will allow us to build a strong foundation for decision making as we move forward.
ESTIMATED TIMELINE: JANUARY 2021 TO MAY 2021
PHASE THREE: IDEA AND STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT
DREAMING. THINKING. TESTING.
This third phase of work allows us to use data and knowledge gathered during the prior phase to explore growth strategies and the impact those strategies have on built and natural systems. The exploration included within this phase allows us to use data to drive decision making and to identify strategic improvements needed to support local and county-wide growth and development.
ESTIMATED TIMELINE: MAY 2021 TO OCTOBER 2021
PHASE FOUR: COMMUNITY DRIVEN IMPLEMENTATION
ACTIONS. RESOURCES. CHAMPIONS
If a plan lacks the ability to be successfully implemented, the vision will never be realized. In this final phase of work, our goal is to create clear, concise, and fiscally responsible steps that Kosciusko County and the participating communities need to complete over the next twenty years.
ESTIMATED TIMELINE: OTOBER 2021 TO FEBRUARY 2022