Jasper comprehensive plan details released

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

JASPER — Jasper’s newest comprehensive plan is a 174-page document packed with data showing what the burgeoning city consists of today, as well as what goals it can chase to become an even better version of itself.

The plan debuted online on Friday and is slated to begin the approval rounds at local government boards in August. Once enacted, it won’t collect dust in a binder at Jasper City Hall. It will be actively referenced and used as a decision-making compass for the next 10 to 15 years.

”While we have the written document, the real, true test of the plan is going to be implementing it,” said Darla Blazey, the city’s director of community development and planning. “So, it’s not something that we want to sit on a shelf. We want it to be an active document, a guide that will help us out now, today and into the future.”

Aptly titled “Impact Jasper,” the public review form of the plan can be found online at www.impactjasper.com. It includes a broad view of Jasper’s future, outlining goals related to everything from land use policy to quality of life.

“The purpose of this effort is to make a positive IMPACT on the community by planning and creating change and growth versus reacting to change,” reads the document’s executive summary.

The plan was penned collaboratively by city leaders across many sectors and three consulting firms. For roughly a year, input has been collected from community members through public workshops, online and mailed-out surveys, focus group meetings and many more avenues.

The result is an extensively detailed final product. Blazey encouraged readers to first check out the document’s executive summary, which is significantly shorter and hits on the key points of the full plan.

While the yet-to-be-adopted document is an update to the active comprehensive plan — which went into effect about a decade ago — Blazey said the new one “started fresh.”

Four key themes in the report hone in on the city’s economy, community, legacy and livability. Those themes are further broken down into goals aimed at strengthening each area of life.

Impact our economy

• Attract residents, retain talent and celebrate diversity within the region.

• Support employers and entrepreneurs in their efforts to expand and locate in Jasper.

• Ensure a talented workforce that serves the needs of employers.

• Plan for growth, service level and capacity improvements to Jasper’s utility infrastructure.

• Promote sound development through everyday planning decisions and redevelopment.

Impact our community

• Strengthen the viability and connectivity between the Courthouse Square and the Riverfront.

• Improve transportation infrastructure and expand connectivity.

• Partner with regional municipalities and organizations to foster collaboration.

Impact our legacy

• Celebrate Jasper’s historic character and arts culture while also showcasing the community’s unique identity.

• Protect and expand environmental assets in and around Jasper.

• Promote well-being for all community members and promote healthy living.

Impact our livability

• Establish a balanced housing stock for residents of all ages, incomes and stages of life.

• Expand high-quality recreational amenities.

• Continue to provide high-caliber community services.

These goals are subsequently broken down again into detailed strategies to how the city can accomplish them. Some of the highest priority ideas include:

• Developing an incentive program to attract young professionals and skilled workforce.

• Improving commerce opportunities along Third Avenue (including Jasper Manor Shopping Center).

• Redeveloping the “Y” intersection as an attractive gateway.

• Implementing, encouraging, and promoting public art.

• Creating a cultural and entertainment district and unifying the riverfront and downtown area. Also, implementing the downtown and riverfront master plan, which focuses on facade improvement, walkability, bike-ability, public spaces and more.

• Planting more trees along streets where feasible and with appropriate species.

• Collaborating with Dubois County and other county partners to develop a regional approach to workforce, business attraction, growth and development.

• Attracting new, diverse housing development, including single-family, multi-family, rental and age-in-place housing.

• Actively participating in the planning process and route alignment of the Mid-States Corridor.

• Developing an indoor sports and recreational facility and aquatic center.

• Creating better pedestrian connectivity in Jasper by connecting trail systems, destinations and neighborhoods.

Many more strategies can be found in the complete document.

Jasper’s Plan Commission will become the first local government board to consider the plan at the group’s meeting next month. If the group agrees to recommend it and push it along, the document will come before the Jasper Common Council in mid-August.

Readers who would like to give feedback to the city can email Blazey at dblazey@jasperindiana.gov, or call city hall at 482-4255. They can also stop in the building, which is located at 610 Main St., to leave a comment.

Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group helped create the plan and will lead an overview of the document at the Jasper Plan Commission meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at in the council chambers at city hall.

“Our prosperous City has the potential to be better than we are now, and we are excited to be in control of our future,” reads a quote from Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide, at the beginning of the plan’s executive summary.




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