Itemizer-Observer

INDEPENDENCE — The Independence City Council at its Oct. 27 meeting unanimously approved a plan to guide the city’s development over the next 20 years.

For almost a year, the city sought community input in what Independence should look like in 2040.

“In May, 2019, staff hired Barney & Worth to begin a new community engagement process to develop Vision 2040 and ensure the city continued to move in a positive, community-focused direction,” Economic Development Director Shawn Irvine told councilors in a memo. “The Vision 2040 process ran almost a year, wrapping up just as the COVID-19 crisis began to take hold.”

Libby Barg Bakke of Barney & Worth, presented at the Oct. 13 council meeting.

“This is a 20-year community-wide vision and action plan, so there’s some big projects in here and the idea isn’t that everything gets done in the first year,” she said. “It’s an aspirational document.”

The plan is an accumulation of what they heard from the community, she said.

“Over 2,000 community members participated in this broad and representative public engagement effort and it resulted in over 600 community suggestions,” Barg Bakke said. “With Shawn’s input and encouragement, I think we accomplished some really fun and interesting engagement opportunities — an ice cream social, we had two online surveys, there’s engagement with the Latino community. I think one of my favorite things Independence tried, is the Hello Independence where people could use text and interact with lampposts downtown.”

The final Vision 2040 documents includes photos submitted by community members who participated in a photo contest.

The actions and ideas were organized into five focus areas: dynamic local economy; vibrant, livable places; safe, healthy people; thriving schools and youth; inclusive involved community.

Community members said connecting south Independence to Highway 99W is a priority, as are expanding downtown revitalization, downtown parking management, housing and accessible recreation.

Advocacy projects that are not in the city’s purview but that the city can support, were identified as well: local medical facility and health services, workforce training and skills development and early childhood and pre-K programs.

“I think really identified some great community priorities for continuing the positive direction of the community,” Irvine said. “For it to really have the weight, especially if we go after funding sources or partners, it’s great to be able to say city council has officially adopted this as their own.”

A lot has changed since the work on the project started last year.

“The input generated during the Vision 2040 process led directly to the formation and vetting of the final plan, which was presented at the last Council meeting,” Irvine said. “While conditions in Independence, and the state and country, are very different than when this plan was created, the vision remains highly relevant.”

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