New Palestine Comp Plan meeting sets positive tone to create goals for town

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The company that won the bid to help the Town of New Palestine create a new comprehensive plan held a project launch meeting earlier this month.

NEW PALESTINE — The company that won the bid to help the Town of New Palestine create a new comprehensive plan held a project launch meeting earlier this month. The meeting at New Palestine Town Hall was designed to get all the local and county players involved, set the tone and gather input for the wide-scoping project.

Sydnee Cseresznyes, President of Volt Strategies, led the New Palestine Project Launch meeting, where the group determined steering and stakeholder strategies as well as discussed the public meeting aspect they’ll also use for input.

The group talked about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) facing the town and then began to discuss the community vision for New Palestine. Cseresznyes noted that a community vision for a town is a collaboratively developed, forward-looking statement that outlines the desired future state and guiding principles for the town.

 The meeting included New Palestine Town Council President Teri Reed, Town Manager Jim Robinson, New Palestine Community Schools Communication Director Craig Smith and Hancock County Engineer Gary Pool, among others.

“It was really great to have all of these stakeholders in one room,” Cseresznyes said. “They all have such different backgrounds and brought their personal or professional views or both.”

The meeting included New Palestine Town Council President Teri Reed, Town Manager Jim Robinson, New Palestine Community Schools Communication Director Craig Smith and Hancock County Engineer Gary Pool, among others.

“It was really great to see how engaged everyone really was,” Cseresznyes said. “We heard a lot of different ideas and had a lot of different passion points.”

The Town of New Palestine’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan did not include a designated community vision, and officials note they don’t want to make that mistake again, so one of the big discussions was what everyone thinks needs to be included in the town’s Vision Statement.

“What we did was have this interactive engagement part of the workshop,” Cseresznyes said.

That included asking people to come up with one word they’d use to describe New Palestine, which included words like quaint, homey, rural and potential.

It’s that “potential” word that carries a lot of weight as the group, along with the community, will try to find the best way to let the town develop while still being able to keep the small-town feel.

“I think it was a productive first meeting,” Robinson said.

He noted the whole idea behind developing a new comprehensive plan is to help community leaders who make decisions have a road map type of handbook to make sure as businesses and developments try to come into the area they don’t harm the town’s vision or change, the town’s charm.

“A comp plan is sort of a road map,” Robinson said.

Cseresznyes said the idea is to have a comprehensive plan that doesn’t harm the “personality” of the town, and the first meeting helped establish that base.

“It’s a little too early to have a full idea of what the town and the community want, but we have a few factors now as we start to craft that vision that is reflective of the town,” Cseresznyes

The next step is to gather with the steering committee a few more times and then start reaching out to hear from community members about how they want to see the town develop.

That includes setting up a place to talk with residents as soon as this coming weekend at the New Palestine Summer Festival, starting at 4 p.m. Friday, June 21 and 1 p.m. Saturday, June 22, where they’ll be at the Classic Car Show to hear feedback and ask questions.

“That’s just once piece of this huge engagement strategy,” Cseresznyes said. “We’ll host some public input meetings as well and some targeted stakeholder meetings.”

Officials say there will also be a community survey released soon which will allow residents to really have a chance to share their views.

“There is a lot of moving pieces in this early stage,” Cseresznyes said. “The most important thing is everyone, they’re all on board with keeping the communities identity while achieving a balance with the growth.”

The biggest take away Cseresznyes said was how everyone “really does seem to love and care deeply about their community.”