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ACP to lead visioning effort

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At its May 4 meeting, Village Council unanimously approved entering into a contract with ACP Visioning & Planning of Columbus to lead the village in a visioning effort.

That meeting followed a special Council meeting on April 27 during which Council agreed to move forward with hiring the firm.

Planning and outreach for the visioning effort will probably take place this summer and the effort itself will be launched in early fall and end by January 2010, according to Len Kramer of the Visioning/Planning task force last week. Council has identified visioning as a way to address longterm, complex and sometimes contentious local issues, such as land use planning and affordable housing.

The May 4 vote was the culmination of a long process. A previous Council came close to sponsoring a visioning effort earlier in the decade, but the plan was later shelved. About two years ago a group of villagers began meeting to discuss a visioning effort, and Council a year ago tasked the group with identifying several possible firms to lead the effort. Earlier this year the group chose four finalists from 27 proposals that were submitted to the Village, and then narrowed that group to two, which were ACP and Regenesis/KKG.

At the April 27 meeting, Council members and villagers expressed enthusiasm about working with ACP, which was the firm that task force members ranked highest among the four finalists.

ACP, while a small firm, is acknowledged as one of the pioneers in the field of visioning/planning, according to a task force summary. ACP has in more than two decades worked with many municipalities, including 13 college towns, and has received awards such as the American Vision Award in 2003 for its work involving broad public participation in efforts to redevelop the World Trade Center area in New York City, presented by the American Planning Association.

In their early April presentation to Council, ACP principals Gianni Longo and Jamie Green, who will lead the Yellow Springs effort, stated that they use a variety of means to involve as diverse a segment of the community as possible in the visioning effort, beginning with appointing a steering committee for the process. That part of the process will begin as soon as possible, according to Kramer, who said that organizers seek broad participation from the community.

The April 27 Council meeting was originally intended as a time for Council members to discuss the two finalists and make a decision, following an early April special meeting at which representatives of both ACP and Regenesis/KKG made presentations about their firms. However, Regenesis/KKG dropped out of the running several weeks ago in a letter to Village Manager Mark Cundiff, stating that the firm realized it could not lead the process for the proposed fee.

While KKG is located in Columbus, Regenesis is a New Mexico firm, and the two firms had proposed working collaboratively on the Yellow Springs project. Concerns had been raised during the April presentation about how Ben Haggard, the Regenesis representative who planned to lead the public events, would be able to stay connected to the process at such a distance, and questions were also raised about possible complications of the two firms working together on the project, since this was their first collaboration.

Council has earmarked $50,000 in the Village budget for a visioning effort, and the Township has commited $5,000. The task force hopes to raise $20,000 beyond that amount, and has applied to local foundations for support. ACP has agreed to conduct the process for $55,000 if additional funds are not raised, although in that case the ACP involvement would include only the visioning effort rather than visioning along with implementation of the outcomes.

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