Elizabethtown residents had their first opportunity Thursday to provide input for the Envision Elizabethtown 2040 Comprehensive Plan during a community workshop at Pritchard Community Center.
Participants could show up at any point during the two-hour event and share ideas and concerns. Elizabethtown resident Carmen Caldera-Brzoska took full advantage of it.
“I think it is wonderful that the city is asking for input from the community,” she said. “I think anybody who has lived here any amount of time and plans to stay has ideas of what they would like to see added or changed.”
For herself, Caldera-Brzoska said improvements she would like are more activities for families and more festivals back at Freeman Lake. She also thinks Elizabethtown needs a teen center that provides something to do but also helps young people plan for their future. Her list also includes establishment of a homeless shelter and related services.
Work began in May on the Envision Elizabethtown 2040 Comprehensive Plan and it will be developed over the course of approximately 13 months. It examines future possibilities and establishes a defined direction or vision for the community.
When adopted, it will guide development and growth in Elizabethtown, according to envisionetown.org, a recently launched website to keep the community informed on the plan and its process.
Elizabethtown has not fully updated and rewritten its comprehensive plan since 2004.
The city hired Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group, HDR and EHI Consultants to facilitate the planning process, which features several methods for community engagement, such as Thursday’s workshop.
Elizabethtown residents Leslie Riley and Mary Ellen Lunsford took the opportunity to learn statistics about the city and about the comprehensive plan process.
“This is interesting just to get all this data,” Lunsford said. “I care about where the community heads in the next 20 years.”
Riley said she recently moved back to Elizabethtown and is interested in the community and being involved.
“I am glad that this is open to everybody and I look forward to seeing the positive outcome,” she said.
Amy Williams, a certified planner with Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group, said the purpose of the event was to orient people to what is being done and identify issues and ideas.
“It is all about information gathering at this moment and visioning,” she said. “We will find steps to make that a reality in the later phases of this project.”
The goal of the comprehensive plan is to articulate a vision for the city’s future and identify long-range goals and objectives related to various community elements, such as land use, transportation, utility, infrastructure, economic development, quality of life, housing and parks.
Aaron Hawkins, a planner with the city, said they want to know as much of what the public thinks as possible.
“Probably the biggest component of the comp. plan is public input,” he said. “The public input is really the most critical thing because that tells us what the community thinks the direction should be for the city of E’town.”
Hawkins said the workshop Thursday worked well. Elizabethtown Mayor Jeff Gregory agreed.
“I think it is great because we value citizen input,” he said. “... We have a lot of concerned and interested citizens in our community and that is only going to continue to make us stronger moving forward when we are trying to implement our plan.
“Another thing that is encouraging to me is I have seen ... people that I don’t know that live in the community and that is a good thing because that means that we are getting deep involvement and it matters to people,” he added.
The city also launched an online survey to capture ideas and feedback from community members, which can be found at envisionetown.org.
Some of the questions on the survey include, “How would you rate the quality of life in Elizabethtown?”, “How would you rate the general conditions of the infrastructure (utilities, water, roads, sewer, etc.) within Elizabethtown?” regarding public services and amenities offered in Elizabethtown? and “Name something that isn’t provided that you think is needed in the community.”
Further information and updates on community engagement for the comprehensive plan can be found on the City of Elizabethtown Government Facebook page and Instagram. Ideas and comments can be submitted at any point at envisionetown.org.