Comprehensive plan team selected by New Palesitne officials

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Sydnee Cseresznyes, VOLT is the project manager for the Town of New Palestine’s new Comprehensive Plan which will cost an estimated $48,000.

NEW PALESTINE — After hearing pitches from at least three different design groups, officials with the Town of New Palestine have selected one team to tackle the massive project of creating a new comprehensive plan.

The town’s council selected Volt Strategies, Katz, Sapper & Miller along with Context Design as the unit to set forth a comprehensive plan to help officials map out a town strategy from 2025 through 2040.

Comprehensive plans are important for cities and towns as they set forth a vision and goals for a town’s future, and they provide the overall foundation for all land use regulation in the town. State law encourages all cities and towns to prepare and implement a comprehensive municipal plan. That’s something officials with the Town of New Palestine did in 2016 and have determined it’s time for a new one due to so much growth over the past couple of years in the area.

The cost of the new comprehensive plan is estimated at $48,000 with the amount approved by town officials at the most recent council meeting in early May. The group now in charge of helping town officials create the plan hasn’t wasted any time getting the ball rolling.

Sydnee Cseresznyes, the project manager, has already created a steering committee, one she wants together for a first meeting slated for June 6 at a place and time yet to be determined.

“The Steering Committee is a crucial part of the development process to ensure that the community is actively involved in the planning efforts,” Cseresznyes said.

The team, led by Cseresznyes, noted in light of the significant economic development boom Central Indiana and surrounding counties have experienced and will continue to see over the next decade, the Town of New Palestine has been pressured to keep up with the growth that has engulfed neighboring communities in Marion County.

It’s why town officials say that planning for the future is critical, rather than just letting all developers come without seeing how development fits into a new comprehensive plan design.

Without a well put-together comprehensive plan, which will include significant community input and data analysis, New Palestine is running the risk of economic development happening to them, not for or with them, officials with VOLT said.

Officials with the VOLT group said during their presentation that the Town of New Palestine can make certain they are at the forefront of growth, ensuring that the town maintains its rural feel while improving the connectivity, walk-ability, and amenity access for all its citizens – including the attraction of new residents.

The creation of the comprehensive plan takes time and will have several phases. Phase One will include the plan preparation and will have such things as steering committee sessions, stakeholder meetings, public meetings, research and technical analysis. Phase Two will include review and data analysis, 2016 comprehensive plan review and the re-calibration of goals and objectives. Phase Three will involve the plan development sharing the new plan’s goals and strategies.

Officials with VOLT noted during their presentation to town officials that they would enthusiastically serve as the lead firm spearheading the comprehensive plan efforts, and that they have a full-service public affairs firm that specializes in helping local units of government formulate their stories, strategically share their vision, put data-driven ideas on paper, and implement comprehensive plans of action to ensure that communities are reaching their growth goals in the most effective ways.

The decision to go with the VOLT group came after town officials heard pitches from three different groups during a special session at Town Hall, with the cost for the comprehensive plans ranging from $48,000 to $58,000.

Town manager Jim Robinson told town officials he felt all three groups — the VOLT group, HWC Engineering, and Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group/GRW — were all very capable of doing a great job for the town and community, so he left it up to the town’s council to make the final decision.

“They are all three very qualified and I feel comfortable with all of them,” Robinson said. “I feel this is something we need to do and get it started right away.”

“I feel like VOLT is going to be the best fit,” council member Ryan Hartley said.

Council president Teri Reed noted before the vote that she and her husband had lived in Hamilton County at one point and officials from VOLT had done good work there.

“VOLT would be my choice as well,” Reed said.

It was a decision council members Chad Molinder and Ethan Maple also agreed upon. Council vice president Bill Niemier was unable to attend the meeting where the motion to go with VOLT passed, 4-0.