You spoke, they listened: City presents draft 2017-2021 sustainability plan

Friday, May 5, 2017

Courtesy of Jim Nuttle.

BY BEN SIMASEK — On May 10, the Hyattsville City Council will decide whether to adopt the 2017-2021 Community Sustainability Plan. The plan will formalize the city’s strategies for improving quality of life for residents of all ages, preserving Hyattsville’s unique assets and growing sustainably into the future. Today, May 5, is the final day to comment on the draft plan on Speak Up Hyattsville’s public forum.

In addition to the online platform, the city has found multiple ways to engage Hyattsville residents in the planning process. Through the summer of 2016, 51 interviews were conducted with local stakeholders. In September, three “Community Vision” meetings were held for the public to discuss points of pride and issues of concern in Hyattsville, gauge public opinion via text-in polling, and gather ideas for improving the community. In November, a “Community Choices” public planning session  was held, in which attendees cycled to various themed “stations” to share their ideas in key areas, such as economic development, housing, transportation, public safety, arts and culture, parks and recreation, and volunteerism.

“Largely, these plans are shaped based on the feedback we get, from SWOT [strength, weakness, opportunity and threat] analysis to the community meetings,” said Jim Chandler, director of community and economic development.

The city took the feedback and compiled it into the current draft plan. City staff held two meetings in April to present the draft plan to residents. After a brief presentation, residents were invited to make comments. Katie Gerbes, the city’s community planner, told residents that staff wanted to hear what they got right with the plan — but more importantly, staff wanted to know if they had missed anything.

“This process is one of the best ways for residents to get involved in dictating our city’s future,” Gerbes said, when the city started the planning process. “A community sustainability plan is a living document — it doesn’t just sit on a shelf but is taken into consideration for many of the decisions the city makes.”

The public input gathered throughout these meetings has been translated into 15 goals, under each of which are several specific objectives and recommendations. These goals are grouped in three thematic areas: community, connectivity, and development. The full list of goals is below.

Community:

  • Improve Public Spaces and Community Facilities
  • Increase Programs and Volunteerism
  • Protect and Preserve Historic Assets
  • Build upon Cultural Diversity and Arts
  • Support the Diversity and Affordability of Housing Options
  • Enhance Public Safety and Police Presence

Connectivity:

  • Improve Safety along Major Roadways
  • Improve Traffic Flow within Neighborhoods
  • Enhance and Increase Safe Connectivity for Pedestrians
  • Strengthen Connectivity for Cyclists

Development

  • Support Local and Small Businesses
  • Attract New Businesses
  • Encourage High Density, Mixed Use Development around Metro Stations and the Gateway Arts District
  • Encourage Development Resources
  • Grow in an Environmentally Friendly, Sustainable Manner

A detailed implementation plan is also included in the document, to ensure that each of these goals is turned into action. The priorities identified in the plan have been assessed to determine whether they are ongoing efforts already in progress, near-term items achievable within the next year, mid-term items to be undertaken in the next 1-3 years, or long-term items that will be addressed in the next 3-5 years. The plan also lists which agency or agencies will take the lead on each effort, partners for implementation, and potential resources for items that will require funding.

Over the past year, hundreds of Hyattsville residents have contributed to creating a shared vision of the city’s future. The 2017-2021 Sustainability Plan will serve as the roadmap toward Hyattsville’s future. Its adoption and implementation will help ensure that Hyattsville continues to be a welcome and diverse community for all who live, learn, work, play, shop and visit here.