Residents provide ideas for city's future
The City of Mexico is in the process of updating its comprehensive plan, and a community meeting held Thursday at the Audrain County 4-H Center, produced a broad range of ideas that local citizens believe will make Mexico a better place to live, grow and develop as a whole.
A comprehensive plan is the principal tool that provides a broad-based framework, outlining a municipality's course of action for the future. The Comprehensive Plan Update of Mexico will become the city's official statement to be utilized to make informed decisions to guide development, redevelopment, set forth policies, plans and programs.
Thursday's meeting attracted 75 or more local residents, business owners, educators, city and county elected officials, and welcomed consultants of the Hoefer Wysocki architecture firm out of Kansas City that was hired to assist the city in its planning process.
"A comprehensive plan is policy, not regulatory," explained Brian Hamilton, director of urban design and planning for Hoefer Wysocki. "Your input tonight is very valuable, and will help navigate the process of the plan."
Hamilton, along with Troy Nash, a representative of Zimmer Real Estate Services of Kansas City and John K. Forrester with Olsson Association out of Springfield, met as a team with members of the Mexico City Council in December to introduce themselves and discuss their plan of action. The city council's main focus at that time was transportation, housing, public facilities and infrastructure, parks and recreation, downtown restoration and preservation of natural resources and the environment.
Some of the community aspirations voiced Thursday were similar to the council's focus, with a few added desires. Following are the public's responses to the question "In a perfect world, Mexico would be a community that:
• is abundant with jobs
• is a regulated health-care center of choice
• pushes for growth economically
• meets its goals and is equal with other communities
• has better hotels, restaurants, retail and commercial businesses, and more positive attitudes.
• has better parks, hospitals and schools
• has better coordination of tax initiatives
• restores the middle class
• people want to do business with, and that other communities want to do model after
• promotes church as a priority for families
• has children that want to remain in the community
• honors the past, but not dwell in it
• has curb appeal and
• is a destination
Hamilton said all of the aspirations mentioned are "achievable." However, he warned that comprehensive plans are not "magic bullets."
"Nothing good comes easy. You must be patient. A project like this goes way beyond planting trees," he said. The three-legged stool in creating a good comprehensive plan, he noted, "is people, planet and profit."
Hamilton said the planning process will engage the community through a series of public forums and web-based participation tools to allow citizens to have the opportunity to participate in shaping the future of Mexico.
"Tonight we begin our journey, and your input will give us a bigger perspective of what you want to achieve," he said.
The Hoefer Wysocki group plans to take the information gathered at the Thursday night meeting and create a draft plan. Then in April or March, the group will return to Mexico and hold an open house meeting to discuss the city's alternatives.
"We will put together a draft plan that meets the community's aspirations," Hamilton promised the crowd. Meanwhile, he suggested that the community "think about how they can be good stewards for the next generation and how they can make the future strong."
Hamilton said things that influence a good plan are globalization, immigration, education, entrepreneurship and innovation.
"No plan means anything if we don't recognize all of the influences," he said. Hamilton encouraged the crowd to dream "beyond the status quo."
A link on the city's website invites questions and includes exercises to get reactions.
For more information, visit the website www.EnvisionMexico.org. In a video attached to the link, Mexico Mayor Ron Loesch thanks the city for its efforts in working on the comprehensive plan and says "We have made a commitment to evaluate our strengths, our weaknesses and explore opportunities for our future. We need to take a step back from our day-to-day routines and take steps towards envisioning where our community should be in the next ten years and beyond."