Columbia Imagined, a comprehensive development plan to better Columbia’s sustainability and livability in the future, has entered the third of six phases.
Like the other phases, phase three relies exclusively on public forums and is titled “What Do We Care About?” According to the city’s webpage for the plan, phase three seeks to receive community input about the way Columbia lives, “greens,” grows, moves, finances and prospers.
The city began holding public forum meetings Feb. 7 at local elementary schools. The fifth of seven meetings will be held Feb. 21 at City Hall.
Phase three is the last that gathers information, as phase four will develop objectives, policies, and strategies.
Columbia Imagined is a plan to steer the community’s future growth and development. Community Development Department staff member Rachel Bacon said this includes elements such as infrastructure, mobility and access.
The city outlined the seven elements in phase one. Bacon said comprehensive development initiatives like Columbia Imagined occur in cities typically every 20 years.
Phase two, titled “Who are We?,” allowed residents to contribute their thoughts on Columbia’s sustainability in the past and present. Phase three asks for the public’s voice in determining a vision for the future.
Bacon said including the voices of the community is central to any comprehensive development plan.
“As a staff, we don’t know everything,” she said. “We have to go out and ask people what they want.”
Bacon said the input from citizens allows for a balance of wants in the community.
“It’s about finding a balance, what people like, what people don’t like and what people think is great,” she said.
Bacon said the plan will favor what a majority of citizens think is important.
“Columbia Imagined is a way to break it down in steps and (it) provides a path to get there,” Bacon said.
In addition to public forum meetings, online surveys are featured on the Columbia Imagined website that can be submitted at several locations throughout the city. The survey asks open questions that give citizens who are unable to attend a meeting the opportunity to be a part of the process.
In addition to the Feb. 21 meeting, meetings will be held on Feb. 22 and the final on March 20. The final meeting will summarize and conclude phase three.