Decatur’s More Immediate Goals

Sure Decatur just finished its Strategic Plan for the next 10 years, but that’s like 10 years away!  My internet-toned brain shudders to think of how many funny cat pictures or Facebook status will come and go in 10 years.

I need more immediate gratification.  And I bet you do too.

Thankfully, Decatur’s 2011-2012 budget summarizes many of the goals the city plans to tackle in the next year and a half.  Some you’ve heard of already, others may shock/please/bore/annoy you!

In last year’s budget, the city broke its goals up by department.  This year they’ve broken them up by the four overarching goals in the Decatur Strategic Plan.  Don’t remember what those are?  Well, NOW who feels silly for not having them tattooed on your back? OK, I’ll give you the full breakdown.

1.  “Manage Growth While Retaining Character” 2011-2012 New Projects, Programs & Policies

  • • Update the Zoning Ordinance to address housing, parking and design standards (Tasks 1A‐D SP)
  • • Write Historic Preservation Plan, update preservation ordinance, and submit 2 National Register nominations (Goal 4 SP)
  • • Improve the landscaping and physical appearance of the Square (Task 1E)
  • • Design complete street improvements for the Commerce/Clairemont and Commerce/Church intersections as well as the Church Street corridor to increase pedestrian and bicycle safety

2.  “Encourage a Diverse and Engaged Community” 2011-2012 New Projects, Programs & Policies

  • • Smartphone application Decatur Dash (Task 8D)
  • • Decatur Arts Alliance Public Art Project (Task 8C)
  • • Communication about Aging in Place programs (Task 5A)
  • • Adoption of Universal Design Guidelines (Task 5F)
  • • Evaluate diversity of artists and participants at current events (Task 5B)

Continue reading “Decatur’s More Immediate Goals”

Decatur’s Largest Employers

I’m still digesting the many pieces and aspects of the 2010 Decatur Strategic Plan.  Appendix B: Market and Fiscal Feasibility Analysis is especially interesting, since we “everyday residents” all too often talk about what we want and not frequently enough of the realities on the ground that determine our pipe dreams’ feasibility.

But for now, here’s an interesting chart from that appendix.  If you’ve always known that DeKalb County was the city’s largest employer, but didn’t know what other orgs would make up a top ten list, do I have the chart for you!

If the city’s newest large employer – CCP Games – achieves its goal of 300 employees by 2013, it looks like it will eventually climb into the 5th spot on this list.  However, much of the excitement and hyperactivity surrounding CCP wasn’t just about its size, but also the fact that it brought a new industry (video game development) into the city limits, helping diversify the large business community, which is currently very heavily dependent on public administration and legal services.  (Not surprisingly, I stole that point from the aforementioned feasibility analysis.)

Strategic Plan To-Do List: Commercial Character

The City of Decatur finally unveiled its “to-do” list for the next 10 years last night at a Open House at the Holiday Inn Conference Center.  The list is still in draft format, which means that resident input can still help modify and refine goals, but ultimately much of this list will end up as the city’s specific mission over the next 10 years.

That’s pretty darn important.

So while you’re obviously welcome to flip through the entire list of “tasks” HERE right now, I’m going to try to give a bit more exposure to the specific tasks proposed in the plan by featuring one goal and its associated tasks, once a day, until we’ve gotten through them all.

So, let’s just start from the beginning, shall we?

Goal 1: Retain and enhance the character of existing commercial districts and expand it to new districts

Walkable, human-scaled commercial districts in Downtown and Oakhurst are a hallmark of Decatur today. In the coming decade, as these areas grow and evolve, and as new commercial areas at east Decatur Station and the east lake Marta station emerge, they must do so in a manner that preserves and replicates their best aspects. this means ensuring that development occurs in a way that reinforces and expands the lively, pedestrian-friendly development patterns that make these places special, while respecting their context.

Task 1a: Refine citywide commercial design standards.

Design standards should  be refined to support quality commercial and mixed-use growth. these should recognize the unique character and scale of Decatur’s neighborhoods, and avoid one-size-fits-all approaches.  Updated standards for utility burial, architectural design, and parking should be explored as part of these refinements.

Task 1B: Adopt new sign ordinance requirements to encourage more compatible signage in commercial districts.

Task 1C: Update the Downtown Decatur Special Pedestrian area guidelines and expand the downtown streetscape program.

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Decatur’s Top Challenges of Next 10 Years, According to Residents

The mob has spoken.  (That’s you!)

And has relayed to the city what they believe are Decatur’s greatest challenges over the next 10 years.  The official Strategic Plan website, Decatur Next, just came out with a synopsis of challenges relayed by residents in last week’s meetings.

  • Automobile traffic, parking, pedestrian and biking safety and all the connected issues of mobility. How can we achieve successful coexistence between cars, bicycles, and people?
  • Sustainability. Are there ways Decatur can become “greener” in the broadest sense, from local food production and distribution to energy conservation to resource (especially water) management?
  • Infrastructure. Roads, sidewalks, storm water management, parks and green space – how can we address those needs in an era of limited resources?
  • Coping with an aging population. What can the City do to help residents age comfortably in the neighborhoods they call home?
  • Community affordability. What combination of programs and policies have to be in place to assure that Decatur continues to be accessible to a broad range of ages and incomes?

What’d think?  Did they hit all the high points?

(I don’t see my obsessive talk of a grocery store noted here.)

NOTE: If you have specific comments you want to make “officially” to the city, you need to write a comment over on Decatur Next.  If you’re just philosophizing and/or rambling, DM is here for you.

NOTE: Some Decatur Strategic Plan Meeting Locations Have Changed

Assistant City Manager Lyn Menne writes in that the locations originally slated for some of the smaller Decatur Strategic Plan meetings – which begin next week – HAVE CHANGED.  The list of updated locations can be found on DecaturNext.com, as well as after the jump.

The city will be calling residents and sending emails out to participants in the next couple days to inform them of the location changes and remind them of their meeting times.

Happy planning!

Continue reading “NOTE: Some Decatur Strategic Plan Meeting Locations Have Changed”

What Will Decatur Look Like in 10 Years?

DecaturNext just announced this morning that we are just 70 people away from having more people contributing in this year’s Strategic Planning process than during the 2000 Strategic Plan.  Take that younger versions of people I’m always seeing around town!

If you’re still a swinging, non-committed resident, you can still sign up to participate in the 2010 Strategic Plan discussions HERE.

Continue reading “What Will Decatur Look Like in 10 Years?”

Strategic Plan 2010

Will this be the big story of 2009?

As noted under point 12 of the city’s annexation FAQ, the community has to update its Strategic Plan this year for adoption by the commission in 2010.

With a struggling economy, recent tension created by old, unsympathetic zoning, annexation worries, a leaner charter school system, a host of unfinished transportation goals, and an ever-evolving communication strategy, this should certainly be an involved and interesting process.