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Decatur invites public to vote on Strategic Plan recommendations

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Decatur invites public to vote on Strategic Plan recommendations

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Decatur, GA — The city of Decatur wants the public to vote on recommendations in the city’s forthcoming Strategic Plan, the soon-to-be-released recommendations that will guide the city for the next 10 years.

Former city manager Peggy Merriss once described the Strategic Plan as the city’s business plan.

All information can be found at the Decatur 2030 website.

The Decatur 2030 website says, “Our Strategic Plan is the basis for how we see and respond to challenges and opportunities headed our way. It requires us to think together about how we want Decatur to adapt to change. What emerges from the process will be a guide for planning our priorities, policies, and projects for the next 10 years.”

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the planning process, forcing everything to go virtual due to social distancing requirements.

“After 15 months of community conversation both in person and online, draft recommendations for Decatur’s 2020 Strategic Plan has taken shape,” the announcement from the city says. “Each week you will have the opportunity to review and evaluate them. Visit decatur2030.mysocialpinpoint.com/decatur-strategic-plan/activities/ to share your input.”

Here’s the weekly topic schedule:

– Mobility: April 30- May 7

– Housing: May 7-14

– Civic Trust: May 14-21

– Economic Development: May 21-28

– Climate Change: May 28-June 4

– Equity & Racial Justice: June 4-11

For more background on the strategic planning process, visit the project website.

Here’s the FAQ about the strategic plan from decatur2030.com.

What’s this all about?

We’re doing our once-a-decade update of Decatur’s Strategic Plan and using what we learn along the way to update two other planning frameworks – our Comprehensive Plan and our LCI (Livable Centers Initiative) update. As the process proceeds, these previously distinct plans will be consolidated within one fully integrated resource.

Why are we doing it?

Our Strategic Plan is the basis for how we see and respond to challenges and opportunities headed our way. It requires us to think together about how we want Decatur to adapt to change. What emerges from the process will be a guide for planning our priorities, policies, and projects for the next 10 years.

Who participates?

The Strategic Planning process is open to any and all who live here, work here, worship, play or shop here, or otherwise feel connected to the City of Decatur.

How long is this going to take?

Launched in December of 2019, the process was interrupted in the Spring of 2020 by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Resuming in the Fall of 2020 with additional resident input opportunities, the plan is now expected to reach consideration and adoption by the Decatur City Commission in the first half of 2021.

Why so long?

Beyond the obvious impacts of the pandemic, we need time for gathering all the information we can, not only about how we’re doing with policies already in place, but also about changes we have to acknowledge and address within our community and beyond. Lots of that info will be drawn from the experiences of those most affected by the choices we’ll be making – our citizens. So we want to make sure there’s enough time for as many people as possible to grow confident their views are represented and considered as drafts of the Strategic Plan move towards the final version the Commission will consider.

Who’s running the process?

The City of Decatur, including staff and elected officials, have designed the process with help from a consulting team of specialists experienced in the tasks required for the community conversations and for drafting the planning documents.

In the end, what does all this have to do with how I experience Decatur?

Think of a Strategic Plan as a way to formalize promises we make to ourselves about the future. That’s the “what” part. To fulfill the promises, the Plan also requires us to be specific about the “how” — about how we’ll allocate resources to assure that City policies and programs enable our neighborhoods, our transportation systems, our local economy to work better for everyone. Success will be measured not just by established metrics but by how it feels to live and work and move around in the community.

How are people like me going to weigh in?
The process is designed to encourage participation in ways people are most comfortable. There will be opportunities for both small-group discussions, online input activities, and for community-wide reviews of work in progress. And along the way, news updates and opportunities to join in the conversation will be posted on this website and distributed across the community through online and traditional media and via our network of citizen volunteers sharing updates with the organizations, associations, clubs  and otherwise in which they participate.

How can I be confident that all this work, all this talk, will end up actually guiding future policies and programs

The simple answer is: That’s what Decatur does. In each of the previous Strategic Plan processes, hundreds of participants weighed in and watched their contributions shape what ultimately emerged. Strategic Plan promises became topic headings in the City’s annual budgets, tying accountability to investments. To-do lists in the Strategic Plan and in the plans it informed became to-do lists for City departments and responsible staff. And an overwhelming majority of promises on those lists were accomplished or underway within the time frame between Strategic Plan updates. (To learn more about this history, go here.)

A track record of success like that rewards the sort of citizen participation Decatur enjoys. It empowers individual ownership of the future and builds trust between citizens and government. And it creates the opportunity for increasingly more ambitious promise-making and promise-fulfilling in the future.

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