When you close your eyes and imagine Fort Payne in the year 2032, what do you see? What about the year 2042?
These are the questions City leaders seek answers to. Citizens will get their opportunity to plant a seed of thought during a Comprehensive Plan Public Meeting gathering at Little Ridge Intermediate School on Thursday, Jan. 19.
The event is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. and last for roughly an hour and a half. It is supposed to happen in the lunchroom area of the new campus.
FPTV, the school program that live-streams the city council meetings, is preparing to do the same with Thursday's event, according to Mayor Brian Baine. Anyone unable to attend can still contribute comments online at https://www.fortpayneforward.com/.
“Fort Payne Forward” is a strategic campaign to develop what’s described as “an action-oriented comprehensive planning process to make Fort Payne, Alabama a better place to live, work and play.”
Working with experts from the firm of Goodwyn Mills Cawood (GMC), Fort Payne seeks feedback on how it should look two decades from now. Participation is sought not only from not only people who now live in Fort Payne, but also anyone who drives through it regularly, worships in the city, owns property here or visits during their leisure time.
The project represents an opportunity “to thoughtfully shape future planning through a collaborative approach that assures a broad base of knowledge on which to develop strategies for both short and long-term growth and development. Creating places that are not only efficient but culturally appropriate and environmentally accountable,” GMC states on its website.
The plan to come will set forth a process to engage citizens, unify and embrace previous planning efforts, and develop a roadmap for the future of the City. The plan for each quadrant includes goals, policies and projects related to the future land use, transportation, and community facilities and services.
Mayor Baine said the committee handling the process are in the second stage of a four-pronged plan, collecting data and identifying opportunities and challenges related to Fort Payne so the feedback can be analyzed to consider a variety of opinions and perspectives while developing a plan to guide future development practices. The final result will be a “living document” that expresses the consensus views and surpasses current political trends.
Beyond determining what landmarks get placed where, the plan also tackles economic development as well, with higher paying employment sectors targeted for recruiting into the city.
Phase Two of the four-phased planning process is the public input portion of the Fort Payne Forward Comprehensive Plan. Guidance from the Fort Payne community is gathered through interactions with the project website and Facebook page, the online survey, as well as in-person stakeholder and public meetings. The input helps to guide the creation of specific development goals for the final plan.
Phase Three of the planning process involves crafting a draft master plan that lays out strategic goals for topics such as housing and transportation, as well as an action plan to meet these goals. Phase Four of the planning process is where the rubber meets the road. Fort Payne will present a draft plan for public review, after which the plan will be formally adopted and the work can begin.
Fort Payne grew by about 2,000 people over the past two decades. Fort Payne wants to get ahead of any “growing pains” and ensure city services are sufficient going forward. They want to understand how changes in households will affect the changing housing market and how that could impact potential future development. The city wants to grow and retain younger populations by bolstering employment opportunities and take the needs of their aging parents into account.
The information collected from the in-person meeting and online will empower future leaders to capitalize on industry specializations and growing employment sectors to grow the number of jobs and businesses in town. And since nearly 30% of the homes were built in the 1970s, they can plan future land development.
Respondents can express what categories of new businesses would be most attractive to add to the city with options including retail clothing, pharmacies, sit-down restaurants, fast food, personal services such as nail salons or hairstylists, banks or financial services, professional or business services such as insurance or legal services, and non-emergency healthcare providers.
Recreation is another area of focus, a recent survey asking whether the city needs additional or enhanced recreational opportunities.
For more information or to contribute to the survey, visit https://www.fortpayneforward.com/.