The mayor of Bedford, Indiana pursued and won a grant from the state’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs to update of the city’s comprehensive plan, hoping this would give the community an opportunity to develop a vision for its future. Working with Lochmueller Group (Lochgroup), the mayor and steering committee implemented a unique public involvement plan designed to engage citizens during the planning process, identify future leaders, and build support for implementing plan recommendations.
The mayor utilized the media, city and project websites, email blasts, and personal invitations to get the word out about two planning workshops. More than 200 people attended these visioning meetings. Also, 25 high school students attended a special future leaders visioning workshop.
During these meetings, the community established three main goals for Bedford:
- Provide residents with healthier lifestyle opportunities
- Encourage economic development
- Revitalize the downtown area
Keeping these goals in mind, the comprehensive plan developed objectives, policies, and programs in the areas of historic structures, housing, economic development, transportation, environmental resources, community facilities, utilities, and land use. Volunteers formed committees to tackle each goal, and each committee was then assigned a series of objectives from the comprehensive plan to carry forward.
The Comprehensive Plan and a later Downtown Revitalization Plan – also drafted with Lochgroup’s help – became the foundation of Bedford’s successful application for the coveted, and highly competitive, Stellar Communities designation.