Your Community Priorities

These past few months Lakeland Vision has worked to determine what Lakeland residents believe should be the priorities for the city as we move into the second decade of the century.

Through an open house and an online survey concerned citizen ranked each priority and strategy. In about 10 minutes Lakeland Vision executive director Shannon Lanier will present those rankings to the City Commission retreat.

Looking over the preliminary numbers it seems these are your 12 top community strategy priorities: (votes listed before each strategy)

48 Build alliances to strength public and private funding for the arts (e.g. City of Lakeland, Chamber of Commerce, Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland)
48 Promote legislative action to call for a comprehensive (statewide) rail plan that promotes passenger service in cities and diverts freight rail away from populated areas.
43 Partner with USF Polytechnic to leverage the new campus for economic development and high wage job creation
35 Encourage high density development in Downtown Lakeland to position it as the vibrant urban hub of the community where people live, work, and play
34 Work with local, state and federal elected officials to enhance school funding
29 Develop and communicate incentives and revise development codes to encourage a variety of housing options, including downtown residences and mixed-use development
27 Establish appropriate zoning, funding, and incentives to create a supportive arts environment in Lakeland for all ages.
26 Establish incentives to encourage small businesses to occupy vacant spaces
26 Encourage regional rail service connecting Lakeland to Tampa and Orlando, and, if possible, point beyond
25 Develop a comprehensive, city-wide recycling program to include schools, businesses, and public spaces
24 Develop partnerships with businesses, community leaders, economic development organizations, and educational institutions to attract high tech, high wage businesses
24 Encourage economic development partnerships to focus on increasing wages in Lakeland

Those are the listed top strategies. Nothing too surprising as all match concerns citizens mention in comments, at the water cooler, and other public forums.

I was surprised to see one strategy listed with zero votes: Increase capacity of roadways to improve connections throughout Lakeland, promote more efficient cross-town travel, and maximize the utilization of acquired rights-of-way.

Maybe people are losing their love affair with the automobile?

Update: Live blogging the presentation…

A brief history of Lakeland Vision (I’m sure you can find it on their website

In 2007 Lakeland Vision refocused their nine year old vision. They then hired an agency to bring the community in to shape the next vision. That’s been detailed on Lakeand Local these past few months.

They gathered over 1000 ideas in September 2008 community meetings.

In October 2008 they had goal writing workshops with community members.

In December 2008 they had a mapping the future event.

In the Vision Open House (also online) they gave citizens five votes each to chose their strategy priorities. The top 11 are listed above.

About 91% of those attending the Idea Gathering Meetings were Lakeland residents.

Four themes that came out of the Open House: Downtown Development, Arts Funding, Leverage USFP for economic stimulus/diversity, Passenger rail service & diverting freight rail

The word “Downtown” shows up 13 times in this 2009 document, and once in the 98 document

Noteworthy items: The citizens want more government communication, one-stop online location for various items, homelessness solutions, city environmental department, preservation (natural and landmarks), a dog park, and mental health services.

Some noteworthy differences in the 1998 and 2009 vision documents:

1998 vs 2009
Polk County vs Downtown
Annexiation vs Density/Mixed Use
Create Industrial/Office Parks vs Green
Prepare for Growth vs Manage Growth

Some items were the same…
Small Business Incubator
Art in Public places
a stop on future commuter system

Next steps for Lakeland Vision:
Environmental scan (working with current organizations)
Create Task Force/Partnerships
Begin implementation

Lanier: “Lakeland Visions approach is not to tackle the top ten list, we’ll tackle the gaps.”

Troller says he was hesitant to fund the process, but after seeing how it worked he “stands corrected.”

My thoughts: Lanier mentioned that Lakeland Vision expects the community and the city to work to accomplish the top ten list, and that she sees her organization working to “fill in the gaps.” From the questions and comments of the city leaders it appears they plan to keep that list in mind as they develop city priorities.