In response to resident concerns, Shawnee improves communication on strategic visioning process

Shawnee residents participated in the city’s first ‘imagineering session’ earlier this month to share their ideas on the future of the city.

After a Shawnee resident raised concerns about Imagine Shawnee, city staff is working to create “a more informed environment” around the strategic visioning process for the city.

Imagine Shawnee is the city’s first ever strategic plan. As part of the process, city staff and consultant Strategic Government Resources are seeking public input on the strategic plan through three “imagineering” sessions — the first of which took place earlier this month.

Shawnee Assistant City Manager Caitlin Gard said city staff have been communicating with the resident, David Morris, to address concerns with Imagine Shawnee that he raised at a city council meeting on Monday. City staff also made changes to improve communications on the strategic plan.

“I wanted to follow-up with you because I think you had some really good comments last night regarding the process as a whole,” Gard wrote to Morris. “We will be doing some work to our website to create a more informed environment for our residents and business owners to review the information. We will also be adding a summary of information that was gathered at the first Imagineering Session.”

David Morris
Shawnee resident David Morris, raised concerns about the strategic visioning process.

At the council meeting, Morris had said he thinks the questions at the first session at Transport Brewery were “broad and open-ended” and don’t do enough digging into specifics. For example, many residents at the imagineering session had said they like the “hometown feel” of Shawnee; he asked how the city will interpret that because hometown feel could mean something different to each resident. Morris added that he believes the residents’ responses were similar to what the city had learned at a summit in 2005.

“This is imperative; it’s what’s going to drive the direction of Shawnee for the next 20, 30 years,” Morris said. “We have to get this right.”

In a follow-up email after the meeting, Gard noted that Imagine Shawnee is intended to be broad in scope and also have specific and measurable objectives and outcomes.

“First, after we gather public input from all of our Imagineering Sessions, Focus Groups, and Citizen Survey, the Steering Committee will assist the Consultant in developing a broad recommendation to the Governing Body,” Gard wrote. “During the Governing Body work sessions, City staff will help and assist in developing measurable objectives and outcomes.”

Gard added that the strategic visioning process includes multiple focus group meetings “centered around businesses, youth, seniors, downtown and educators.”

“We want to take a deeper dive into these categories as they relate to the future of Shawnee,” Gard wrote. “The information about these Focus Groups is also now available on our website.”

Morris had also noted his concerns with the makeup of the steering committee; he thinks it needs more diversity — more voices from developers, finance professionals and those with backgrounds in affordable housing, for example.

Gard told Morris that the committee is tasked with overseeing development of the strategic plan and is intended to be “a hands-on guiding group to have oversight of the process.”

“The members of this Steering Committee are thought leaders throughout our community and are heavily involved in all aspects of this great city we call home,” Gard wrote to Morris, noting that the committee will also “assist the consultant in developing action plans, timelines and a general overall structure to the process.”