By STACI YOUNG
Ride+Walk Advisory Committee
You may have heard of master plans being developed in a lot of different places. Master planning is important, and ranges from a 5-year plan for a single person, to a strategic plan for the United States Army.
Warsaw and Winona Lake are completing a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan by the end of this year, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Indiana State Department of Health.
When beginning a master plan, a guiding body is formed. In the case of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, a 16-member committee was formed with representatives from the city of Warsaw, town of Winona Lake, Kosciusko County, and organizations within all three. The goal is to have a representative sample within the committee, however, broader public input is essential during the development of the plan.
The first thing a master plan does is set goals, which are determined by the committee. In order to have a successful plan, everyone has to have a similar definition of what success will look like. This puts a vision into writing and finalizes informal thoughts.
With this vision, everyone can be assured that there is a plan. Those affected personally can know what to expect in the future. Local, state, and federal organizations that have a vested interest can plan for the future with greater certainty. In many cases, funding opportunities require a master plan to be in place.
The second thing a master plan does is evaluate current conditions. The guiding body looks at what already exists and what condition it is in. In the case of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, street conditions are compiled, including speeds, geometry, traffic, and current use. Key destinations are also identified, including public and private places. This prioritizes focus points to work on.
Lastly, short and long term objectives are formed, based on the goals and current conditions identified. In the case of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, different maps will identify priorities at different points in the future. Project descriptions are also developed that include timelines, budgets, and other preliminary information.
Each of these master plan elements will allow the city, town and county to build things today with an eye to the future. Good opportunities can be taken advantage of when they present themselves, while simultaneously preparing for long term projects.