Rise Community Development, in partnership with Dutchtown South Community Corporation and other local stakeholders, are facilitating a neighborhood planning process for the Benton Park West, Gravois Park, and northeast section of Dutchtown neighborhoods. Friday, September 29th marked one year since our resident Steering Committee convened for their first meeting. When this process began, it was impossible to foresee the amount of passion and energy that would flow in to the Gravois-Jefferson planning effort. From the Steering Committee to Resource Groups, local leaders to residents, we are humbled and inspired by your participation.
In the past year…
We came together in schools and community centers, on streets and stoops, to discuss the strengths, challenges, and opportunities that exist in the planning area. From there, goals and strategies were identified to leverage the strengths, address the challenges, and take advantage of the opportunities.
We worked with more than 650 people to gather over 100,000 pieces of public input. We had six large public meetings, seven steering committee meetings, and countless conversations and focus groups.
We built the Gravois-Jefferson Historic Neighborhoods Plan website featuring online meeting activities and a survey available in English and Spanish. The site has been visited over 4,000 times and we have hundreds of survey responses.
We considered how neighborhood-level programs and policies could address the systemic injustice that affects all aspects of community life. As we saw inequity continue to play an insidious role in education, employment, health and other systems, we came together to brainstorm solutions.
We set an intention to engage young people – especially those under 18 – in the planning process. This led us to conversations with students at Roosevelt and Carnahan High Schools, the youth council at Thomas Dunn Learning Center, the after-school group at Gene Slay’s Girls and Boys Club, and spring break camp kids at Cherokee Rec Center. From reimagining vacant property to developing maps of their communities, youth have consistently responded with optimism and ingenuity when asked about the future of their neighborhoods. Many young people have also expressed major challenges they face on a daily basis, most notably access to jobs, prevalence of trash, and violence.
We completed a Loveland Survey of every parcel in the planning area – over 5,000 buildings and lots! Theinformation gathered, including land use and building condition, has helped inform Plan recommendations and strategies.
We were challenged to consider the ways that changing state-level and national polices affected the quality of life at the local level, especially for our most vulnerable neighbors.
We convened a series of resource groups to involve stakeholders in plan development, effectively increasing communication among partners, breaking down silos, building support for strategies, and sparking implementation of the plan. We connected trained practitioners with passionate community members to develop cross-scale relationships and build a platform for sustained change. We look forward to continuing our work with these groups as we develop the final plan and transition to implementation.
We synthesized community input into draft plan recommendations, which were shared with residents and stakeholders for feedback. The Steering Committee and planning team continue to refine recommendations as we approach the completion of the Gravois-Jefferson Plan.
We established a community vision statement: accessible, sustainable, inclusive neighborhoods where families and individuals thrive in a diverse and historically rich, engaged community.
Inspired by our progress, we look forward to the year ahead.
In the next year…
We look forward to completing the Gravois-Jefferson Historic Neighborhoods Plan and sending it to the City Planning Commission for approval. In the coming weeks, the resident Steering Committee will be prioritizing plan recommendations and meeting to discuss implementation and capacity. From there, staff from the City Planning and Urban Design Agency will work with Rise and Dutchtown South to submit the Gravois-Jefferson Plan for adoption.
The Gravois-Jefferson Plan will be considered and (hopefully) adopted by the Planning Commission as an official Neighborhood Plan.
A community event will be held to celebrate the adoption of the Plan and begin the process of implementation. Local organizations, residents, and regional partners will come together to honor the work that has been done and organize for continued action.
Residents will continue to do the important everyday work of loving and caring for the Benton Park West, Dutchtown, and Gravois Park neighborhoods. There are individuals and organizations already doing great work in the planning area; they were fulfilling the community’s vision before the planning process began and will continue to do so in years to come.
We will come together in schools and community centers, on streets and stoops, to work toward accessible, sustainable, inclusive neighborhoods where families and individuals thrive in a diverse and historically rich, engaged community.
We can’t wait to see what the next year brings as we work together toward stronger, more equitable neighborhoods. If you would like to receive updates on our progress, you can click the Contact Us tab and provide your email in the contact form.