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Yellow Springs and Miami Township community residents are encouraged to take part in an open house, “Shape Our Future,” the third public participation phase of the ongoing visioning process that began almost a year ago, and that winds up soon.

The first open house took place Wednesday, May 19, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. The event continues on Thursday and Friday, May 20 and 21. On Thursday, the open house will take place at the First Presbyterian Church from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and on Friday it will take place at the Bryan Center, Rooms A and B, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The purpose of the event is to offer all visioning participants the opportunity to give feedback on recommended action steps, which are the culmination of the first two public phases of the process. Comment cards will be provided for citizens to make comments, state their preferences and volunteer to help complete the process.

In the first phase in October, participants offered 600 ideas to strengthen the village and township, and in December participants refined those ideas into goals and themes. According to Visioning Steering Committee Co-Chair Fred Bartenstein, those themes have been further narrowed down into four “priority initiative” areas, which are Strengthening the Economy, Managing the Physical Environment, Meeting the Needs of People and Fostering Leadership and Collaboration, with action steps for each area. While 136 action steps were initially proposed, the final number has been winnowed to 34.

It’s essential that community members give feedback on these steps, to help organizers correct any mistakes that may have been made, Bartenstein said.

“It’s very important that people take part,” said Bartenstein in a recent interview. “It’s essential that all participants check it out, because there’s still an opportunity to refine it.”
This final group of action steps seems to reflect the values of the community, according to Bartenstein, who also said the steps seem inclusive of the various segments of the village and township.

“This is the stuff of the community, and they shouldn’t be a shock,” Bartenstein said. However, he also believes that while the steps may seem familiar, “I’m not sure anyone could have written this without going through the visioning process.”

The Strengthening the Economy priority area has eight actions, including creating an economic development plan, developing a program to provide financial support for facilities and activities that strengthen downtown commerce, creating a business incubator with Antioch College and Antioch University McGregor and working to increase potential properties for business, among others.

The nine action steps of Managing the Physical Environment include preparing a joint comprehensive land use plan, revising the zoning regulations in Yellow Springs to “ensure desired village character, improve affordability and support economic vitality,” preparing a pedestrian (sidewalk) and bicycle plan for Yellow Springs and the Township, and developing a green energy and waste reduction program.

Action steps for Meeting the Needs of People include preparing a housing plan for the village and township that includes a survey of housing conditions, affordability and needs, establishing partnerships for the construction or rehabilitation of housing “that is permanently affordable for families with low to moderate incomes,” preparing a study to determine racial achievement disparity in Yellow Springs schools, and conducting an analysis of the possibility for a cooperative effort by the Village, Antioch College and other local entities in creating a community health and fitness center in currently under-utilized college buildings.

And in the priority area of Fostering Leadership and Collaboration, the action steps include resurrecting the Community Forum or Community Roundtable, developing a program to initiate and promote community social events and activities, creating a program to engage area colleges and universities in collaborative initiatives and establishing a clearinghouse for volunteer services and opportunities in the villages and township.

According to Bartenstein, a fifth priority area on display at the open house will be the other 102 action steps that did not seem to be clear priorities, but which citizens may comment on. Visioning steering committee members will be present to answer questions.

More than 300 village and township residents, or about 10 percent of the adult population, took part in the visioning effort so far, and 34 village and township residents served on the visioning steering committee. The effort is co-sponsored and funded by Village Council and the Miami Township Trustees, and led by ACP Visioning+Planning in Columbus.
An official report on the visioning process and results will be delivered to Council and the Trustees at a special joint Council meeting on Tuesday, June 8.

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