Shawnee council reviews, refines 5 pillars for Imagine Shawnee, city’s first strategic plan

Shawnee is in the process of creating the city's first strategic plan. City leaders will consider a revised version of the plan in the coming days, after discussing a draft version last week. File photo credit Andrew Poland.

As Shawnee puts the finishing touches on a visioning process, city leaders last week reviewed a draft plan for the five pillars that will form the backbone of a long-term strategic plan.

The city council Thursday afternoon went over details for each of the proposed five pillars for Imagine Shawnee, the city’s first-ever strategic plan.

The city council made multiple changes to the pillars and fleshed out wording details, especially related to housing, public transit, code enforcement and promoting a business-friendly environment for new and existing developments. Some councilmembers also suggested making Shawnee a “sports destination” for the metro area.

Overall, the council agreed with the direction of the five pillars as representative of the city’s strategic vision moving forward.

“It feels like there’s something for everyone in Shawnee,” said Councilmember Lindsey Constance, “whether you’ve been in the community for 50 years and remember how it was back in the day, or you’ve just moved here.”

Julie Breithaupt, communications manager for the city, said staff is developing a final report from Thursday afternoon’s meeting. In the meantime, here is a draft version of the five pillars presented to the council:

Create a safe, sustainable, inclusive and interactive community

  • Provide state-of-the-art public safety
  • Create walkable and bikeable communities
  • Develop public transit
  • Make downtown an interactive destination
  • Plan with sustainability and conservation in mind
  • Offer increased opportunities for parks and recreation, art, history and cultural experiences

Some councilmembers want to ensure public transit remains a part of the pillars in order to serve residents who depend on public transit, especially in the context of Johnson County cutting bus routes further west.

Creatively meet the diverse housing needs of a growing city

  • Provide low to no-maintenance housing for seniors
  • Provide affordable attainable starter homes for young families
  • Be innovative in mixed-use developments
  • Create density by infill
  • Create multi-family housing with existing development

Councilmember Eric Jenkins had concerns with the word “density,” so staff and leaders suggested changing the phrase to “promoting” infill development to revitalize areas.

Provide exceptional city services and infrastructure

  • Emphasize code enforcement
  • Provide state-of-the-art stormwater system (Identify immediate needs for replacement and expansion and develop a plan)
  • Create more connectivity through sidewalks, bike paths and trails (Focus on areas with highest impact)
  • Maintain accreditation for police, fire, public works, parks and recreation and city manager departments
  • Create infrastructure plan for potential businesses

Several councilmembers wanted to add “maintaining and expanding roads and incorporating the city’s new Green Streets concept” to this pillar, as transportation infrastructure is a priority for Shawnee.

Be the leader in maximizing and integrating natural resources

  • Integrate topography into development and site design
  • Develop regional stormwater detention
  • Revise design standards
  • Emphasize connectivity and walkability

Create an environment where businesses thrive

  • Build preemptive utility infrastructure
  • Identify areas that would be attractive to businesses and make sure connectivity and walkability are considered
  • Integrate parks and recreation into business park concepts

Some councilmembers wanted to broaden the language on the fifth pillar, to include both attracting new businesses and supporting existing businesses.

Mike Mowery with Strategic Government Resources, the city’s consultant for the strategic plan, said the pillars are “not yet ready for public consumption.” As such, the city will host an additional public input meeting sometime before the city council makes a final review of the strategic plan.

The steering committee will review the pillars on Tuesday, and another public meeting will take place Friday for Imagine Shawnee.

Councilmembers Mike Kemmling and Tammy Thomas were absent.