What’s in Jasper’s future? Festgoers chime in


JASPER — Jasper’s comprehensive plan took a step forward on Strassenfest’s opening night earlier this month, when about 40 festivalgoers visited an Impact Jasper booth and offered their opinions on what the plan should address.

When adopted in about a year, it will serve as the official road map guiding development and growth in Jasper through the year 2030. Impact Jasper is the name of the comprehensive plan that will document this long-term vision for the future. The Strassenfest was used as a kickoff to gain public involvement in the plan’s formation and raise awareness of its creation.

Haley James, a community planner and deputy project manager with Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group — a consultant helping the city design the plan — explained that the group asked participants to tell Impact Jasper a big idea, one thing they would change, or one thing they would preserve. James provided a summary of the findings in an email to The Herald on Friday.

Booth visitors expressed a desire for increased connectivity in Jasper such as greenbelts, bike trails and sidewalks. They also spoke on the importance of thinking regionally and how Jasper can connect to neighbors such as Huntingburg and Ferdinand.

Providing more programming opportunities and venues for events such as entertainment at the new River Centre development was discussed, as was creating more activities for kids like a skate park or trampoline park. James believed those comments came from children.

Connecting with the Spanish-speaking community and providing more English-to-Spanish translations, starting recreational facilities such as a community garden or sculpture garden, and becoming a leader in renewable energy and recycling were all ideas that were mentioned. Other changes discussed included more workforce housing, updating the city pool and golf course, as well as transportation improvements.

James said the booth also offered information to members of the public by informing them how the plan will come to fruition over the course of the next year.

All comments made during Strassenfest and upcoming outreach opportunities will be recorded and utilized when creating recommendations for the plan. Impact Jasper Comprehensive Plan creation began in June and is scheduled to be developed through August 2019. Jasper’s current comprehensive plan was adopted in 2010 and was last updated in 2011 and amended with the downtown/riverfront master plan in 2013.

“It not only examines land use policy and objectives, it includes a broad view of Jasper including transportation, community facilities, utilities & infrastructure, park, environmental assets, downtown, the Patoka Riverfront, quality of life, and more,” the website says of the plan. “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.”

A group of 25 people make up the plan’s steering committee. Members include city officials and staff; members of various city boards; educators; and representatives of the health, agriculture and business communities. The cost to develop the plan is $96,000, which is split evenly between the City of Jasper and the Jasper Municipal Utility.

Want your voice to be heard? More ways for residents to share their voices will be offered in the coming months, including two public workshops this fall and next spring. An interactive informational display will also be placed at places like the Jasper Public Library and will provide information and invite feedback.

James said Impact Jasper is also working with local schools to give intermediate and high school students the opportunity to provide their input, and a survey will be mailed out to a sample population. That survey can be accessed online by anyone at impactjasper.com/survey, and participants are entered to win two tickets to ride the Spirit of Jasper passenger train.

James said the benefits to having an active comprehensive plan include pooling community members’ feedback to understand what they want to see in the future; providing opportunities for future grants; and determining policy and programming; and building priorities. She said boards of zoning appeals and plan commissions use comprehensive plans as guides when issuing variances.

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