What would you like your hometown to look like a decade from now?
A newly formed committee in Cleveland, Tennessee, is looking 10 years down the road at a community vision that capitalizes on the city's "heart and soul" while keeping pace with a changing future.
Ideas for that vision will be developed in phases and discussed in a series of monthly meetings to be held through December, according to Cleveland Vision 2030 committee leaders. The 30-member committee — made up of appointees by the city council — will make recommendations to elected leaders.
In its first meeting Feb. 28, a nine-member steering committee was formed from the group and will organize meetings and streamline decisions, officials said in a city news release.
The first meeting was led by city manager Joe Fivas, who on Tuesday said the committee will build on data collected from a community survey about 18 months ago and look ahead to a bigger picture of Cleveland's future.
"The whole premise of what we're trying to accomplish is trying to come up with a strategic direction for the community," Fivas said.
"A lot of communities budget on a year-to-year basis and they can't string together investments over a long amount of time to do some of the larger projects and efforts that need to happen," he said. "This is about the community giving recommendations to the council on where they think the community should go."
Fivas said the committee's work will be community-led and members will have a voice on the council through the council member who appointed them.
Growth is increasing pressure on the city's infrastructure and other areas, such as improved services and redevelopment downtown and elsewhere, which requires a longer-range plan, he said. City officials want the committee to put a framework around those issues to help prioritize long-term investments and goals.
The group discussed three project goals:
> To engage the Cleveland community "more completely and effectively" in a public process.
> To identify and articulate "the most important defining values of Cleveland, which describes the very 'heart and soul' of the community, which makes Cleveland, Cleveland."
> To use those values to "align and update" local policies and the city's strategic investment and action plans to make sure major decisions support "heart and soul" values in the future, officials said.
Cleveland Vision 2030 committee chairwoman Beverly Johnson said committee members and elected officials are talking to their communities, cooking up ideas and making sure no one is left out en route to determining those "heart and soul" goals while keeping Cleveland's traditions and flavor.
"We just want to get ahead of the curve as far as planning aspects of our infrastructure," Johnson said.
"We've had some opportunities like the Whirlpool building and we're getting ready to make a nice investment there," she said. "A lot of people have thought that this is just about downtown revitalization, but that's only one facet."
Johnson said the committee also will look at the impact of population growth and how to make sure the education system, city services, recreational offerings and local infrastructure keep pace with the changing needs of the community and its workforce.
"Ten years is not a futuristic kind of plan," she said. "We're trying to come up with five things that are manageable enough for us to hit head-on."
Four "phases of progress" for the committee are: 1) to level the playing field by working to establish guiding principles and goals; 2) identify projects that support community goals; 3) identify people, policies and projects to help meet goals; and 4) celebrate the plans and launch efforts for implementation, the release states.
Future agenda topics include:
* Downtown growth and development
* Redevelopment of the former Whirlpool site
* Transportation and infrastructure
* Sports tourism, parks and beautification
* Education system, city schools and higher education
* City services and public safety
* "Big ideas"
"We want this to be a community-led effort so we're giving them a lot of freedom to organize and make decisions and the staff's role is to help with information," Fivas said Tuesday.
"I think there's a tremendous amount of energy in the group and it's something the community hasn't done much of, which is longer-term strategic planning," he said. "We think this should be the next step in the process."
The next meeting is set for April 18.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.