In 2040 planning project, Lenexa residents envision a future for city that’s ‘thriving, connected and livable’

The city has enlisted volunteers to help promote the Vision 2040 planning process. Photo credit city of Lenexa.

Thriving, connected and livable: These are three recurring descriptors that have emerged from Lenexa residents who have taken part in Vision 2040, the city’s long-range visioning project.

Vision 2040 started on Feb. 21, when Mayor Michael Boehm called for volunteers during his state of the city speech for steering committee meetings, task forces and community forums. The process is about halfway completed. Organizers expect to finish their work in November and present their final findings to the City Council, Sheila Shockey of Lenexa-based Shockey Consulting, who is conducting the Vision 2040 effort, told the council at its Tuesday night meeting. The city is paying the company $139,000 for the project.

The guiding principles of the process and its resulting strategy, according to Shockey’s presentation to the council, are that the strategy is “progressive, inclusive, creative, forward-thinking, community-building, achievable, measurable, adaptive and distinctly Lenexa.” Vision 2040 focuses on four areas: economy, growth and revitalization; neighborhoods and housing; infrastructure and transportation; and sense of community.

The first of two surveys had about 1,200 responses and closed in late July, Shockey said. The second survey has more than 1,000 responses so far and will close Aug. 15. About 1,800 people have taken part by writing on signs what they want Lenexa to be and having their photos taken with the signs.

Organizers have been to 26 events to make presentations about Vision 2040 and get residents’ top five ideas, and they plan to hold about the same number of additional events before the process is completed. An event called VisionFest is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 20 on the civic campus and will include a futurist who will talk about future trends in Lenexa.

The next step, Shockey said, is to work as a team to take the data and “put them into some big concepts.” Organizers also will start targeting the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce and the Lenexa Economic Development Council to get the business community involved in the process.

Ward 4 Councilman Andy Huckaba said that the map Shockey presented showing survey respondents’ locations and the locations of events and meetings for the project revealed a notable lack of participation in the city’s business parks. He advised Shockey to address that discrepancy and said that small businesses “are in Lenexa for a reason.”

“Some of them started here,” Huckaba said. “Some of them moved here because this is where they wanted to be. I think they have a lot to say, but they have to be asked. And so, just don’t lose those people. I think they’re very important to the future of Lenexa and we should be asking them.”

Ward 2 Councilman Thomas Nolte said that the map showed a lack of engagement in areas with rental properties.

“I don’t think we’re getting that same love from people in our apartments,” Nolte said, adding that about half the city’s population lives in rentals. “It’s a little disappointing.”

Plans are underway to further engage people who live in apartments, Shockey said.

This is Lenexa’s third city-visioning effort, which will yield a document with long-term goals the city should try to achieve. The first was in 1997 for Vision 2020 and the second in 2008 for Vision 2030. One of the first effort’s noteworthy goals was the creation of City Center close to the city’s geographical center.