We’ve Done A Lot Of Planning Over The Past Decade

A comprehensive plan can do a lot of things.

As Jamestown embarks on its first such planning effort since 1998, in our view two things are most important – rekindling excitement in the city’s future and identifying how the city and its partners will keep the comprehensive plan on track.

There have been a lot of plans undertaken in Jamestown since 1998, but this planning process comes at an interesting time in the city’s history. Much has been accomplished over 36 years, but in many ways Jamestown feels much the same after the initial excitement created by the opening of the Northwest Savings Bank Arena and National Comedy Center. High inflation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has had something to do with that, but there is something else at play, too.

The opening of the Comedy Center in 2018 felt like a harbinger of great things for downtown. The pandemic certainly dampened that enthusiasm. There is a palpable sense that positive momentum in the city has come to a standstill.

This upcoming planning effort can go a long way toward rekindling some excitement about both downtown and the city as a whole. It’s time to approach the next 20 years of Jamestown’s future with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective. What do city residents want to see happen to city neighborhoods? What do they want to see downtown? What ideas to those who call Jamestown home have to fix what ails the city? C&S Companies, the organization Jamestown has hired to write this new comprehensive plan, must do all it can to get city residents to participate in public input sessions rather than letting input fall to representatives from the city’s foundation community. New voices and new ideas are needed here – if the same 30 to 50 people who attend every planning session are the only ones attending comprehensive plan meetings then the entire effort is doomed to fail.

As a side note, the comprehensive plan won’t identify a person or group to keep the plan on track or, at least, to keep key ideas in the public eye so they aren’t forgotten. We note the two plans that have had the most success over the past couple of decades are the Urban Design Plan and the city’s 2007 neighborhood plan had specific non-profit partners to help implement those plans. More recent plans and strategies haven’t had the same follow through – and we think city residents have noticed that some of the most interesting things discussed in plans over the past decade have either not happened or happened in much smaller forms than originally presented while the exciting ideas are quickly forgotten.

Excitement is a great thing – but following through on the ideas that generated that excitement is just as important in keeping the excitement bubbling throughout the community. In our view that follow through is vital if the comprehensive plan is to be anything more than a paperweight six months after it’s delivered to the city.


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