(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) City officials are taking a look at the future of St. Joseph. The St. Joseph Planning Commission is laying the groundwork for city development over the next 20 years with the St. Joseph 2040 plan.
“You need a plan for the simplest of projects and certainly when you are trying to develop and recreate a city over the course of the next 20 years, you need a plan to do that too,” Planning Commission Chair Reba Herbert said
The commission is currently in the first of four phases; collecting data and meeting with residents to define what St. Joseph’s biggest needs are and how these factors impact the city’s future.
St. Joseph City Planner Nic Hutchison said the commission is building the 2040 plan off of the city’s current comprehensive plan, the Land Use Plan 2004-2024.
“Back in 2004 the city originally adopted a future Land Use Plan and we’ve used that plan to identify and prioritize what the future of St. Joseph looks like and how the land should develop and what areas we need to focus on,” Hutchison said.
Hutchison said the commission plans to use community input to identify what the St. Joseph community truly needs.
“I think it’s important we engage with the community just to insure that we’re in touch and understand what's going on at the ground level. Not everyone can live in the neighborhoods, so it’s good to have their perspective and their viewpoint to understand the issues and the challenges, and what it would take to make their quality of life better,” Hutchison said.
Officials said the plan will involve projects in several areas throughout the city in both the public and private sector.
“It’s a really multifaceted document, it looks at Parks and Rec, Public Works, community development, economic development, really everything that goes into making a city work and function,” Hutchison said.
Detailed plans for city renovations have not been finalized by the committee, but Hutchison said a few of the projects involve renovations to the riverfront
“[Highway] 229 is always a conversation in regards to the double decker bridge and what the future of that will look like. The maintenance on that is pretty costly, so the transportation organizations are wanting to find an alternative that’s something that is going to have a huge impact and potentially provide and open up access to our riverfront,” Hutchison said.
Herbert said the plan will affect several historic buildings in the downtown area
“We do value our historic buildings, but we need to look forward and see how many of those things that we have inherited can be repurposed to add value to the future of the city,” Herbert said.
Herbert said because of the plan stretching across a two-decade time span, the funding for all St. Joseph 2040 projects will most likely come from a variety of sources on a case by case basis.
“Much of it [funding] would depend on our CIP, Capital Improvement Projects funds. Some of it could be done with bonds. Some people do anonymous donations for certain projects. We would have a variety of funding sources. Each and every project would have its own characteristics, its own pluses for the community, so it would depend on what project we’re on,” Herbert.
Hutchison said the planning process is expected to take approximately a year to complete, but the commission is hopeful the plan will represent things the community can support.
“The goal with the document is to utilize it as our core document we reference when we are making these big decisions on projects and developments to make sure its working towards that long-term vision,” Hutchison said.
The planning commission hopes to present the St. Joseph 2040 comprehensive plan to the city counsel by early 2019.