Planning for our Future.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
I’m a planner – in all aspects of my life. You’ll often find me making detailed lists, filling in one of several calendars (electronic and paper), and working out the details to get where I want to go – whether that’s finishing graduate school while working a full-time job, running a marathon, or tackling a major work project. I’m a big believer in planning the work, and then working the plan.
So, it should come as no surprise that when I joined the council, one of the first documents I sought out was a long-term plan…without much success. Certainly, there are some overarching general principles and guidelines, but nothing that sets out a vision for the future, or a path to get there. Perhaps even more troubling, our city’s Comprehensive Plan – the document that should guide all growth and development – has not been meaningfully updated since 1987. Think about where you were in 1987…would you want our 2019 (and beyond) city to be guided by what was commonplace at that time?
With an outdated plan, we're subject to the whims of the market, having to dictate our path forward on a case-by-case basis, with no eye on how we can also maintain the amazing quality of life we all love. We are not in charge of determining our own future.
There are so many great things happening in our metro, and Shawnee is perhaps uniquely positioned to take advantage of them…including:
1. A new international airport that will bring in businesses and individuals from across the globe looking for commercial, industrial, and residential options for their workforce…with Shawnee as the closest Johnson County city.
2. An animal health corridor that is the largest in the country; stretching from Columbia, Missouri to Manhattan, Kansas…with Shawnee right in the middle of this highest concentration of scientific growth and opportunity.
3. Regional proximity to one of the largest rail freight connectors in country with the intermodal in Edgerton.
4. The growth of industrial opportunities…with the northwestern corner of our city primed for these developments.
5. A federal opportunity zone – one of only two in the metro – in our own downtown.
6. A hub of youth sports activity along Johnson Drive – at a time when baseball, softball, and soccer are growing in popularity locally and nationally as a football alternative…and parents are looking for restaurant and retail options before, during, and after the game.
Any one of these presents a real opportunity to diversify our tax base, which would lower the burden on residential homeowners, while providing additional revenue for ongoing infrastructure and core service needs and maintaining our current community "feel". To get there, we must come together to create a plan for who we want to be and how we want to get there – with specifics. This would help provide the consistency and stability that businesses expect, and residents deserve. And it be equally helpful in determining which projects aren't right for our city.
For too long, we've sat on the sidelines, waiting for projects, businesses, and opportunities to find their way to the front door of city hall. With a robust and thoughtful plan – put together with input from residents like you – Shawnee's leadership can pursue a broader tax base to relieve the residential tax burden, while creating a more vibrant and diverse local economy. Beyond the creation of a plan, we need a leader who is willing to put it into action, by participating in and contributing to the regional economic development conversation.
We can tell our story…not only of our amazing past, but of our even brighter future.