The Warsaw Planning Commission, along with most members of the Warsaw Common Council, met Monday night to give input into a comprehensive plan that will serve as a road map for Warsaw’s future.
Brad Johnson of Ground Rules Inc., the company contracted for $50,750 to complete the city’s comprehensive plan, met with the city officials for two hours discussing high points of the city, areas that need work and where the leaders hope to guide the future of Warsaw.
For the next 10 months, Johnson said he will be meeting with other interest groups, conducting public surveys, taking part in workshops and the upcoming June Ball State charrette, and holding public meetings to develop the plan. Johnson began the discussion by noting, “The policy for writing a comprehensive plan has three basics. Those are that it needs to include a policy for future land use, a policy for thoroughfares and a policy for public facilities.”
Among the areas which officials feel need to be a serious focus of the comprehensive plan are future land use, preserving the environment and aesthetics, maintaining current industry and expanding industrial businesses, fiscal responsibility, housing, the airport, encouraging entrepreneurship, economic development and redevelopment, and the importance of inter-jurisdictional cooperation.
A common theme during the meeting was the lack of communication that seems to be happening between city, county and even Winona Lake officials. Councilman Jeff Grose noted the lack of communication and said all entities need to see the comprehensive plan and have access to it so there is some uniformity in areas immediately adjacent to the city.
“You’re at the driver’s seat of this one,” Johnson said. “You get to have the trump card in how we resolve these issues.”
Another problematic area is traffic. WPC member Jim Gast noted the city has been unable to keep up with traffic flow and access with all of the growth. “We’ve done a poor job in that area,” he said. “The north-south railroad crossings are a problem.”
Council president Diane Quance also asked Johnson to take into account “the uniqueness of Warsaw … ask someone outside of here how big Warsaw is and they’ll tell you 25,000 to 30,000 people.” In reality, Warsaw’s population is about 14,000. “The mentality here is not of a small town in terms of the services and content that people want to see here, but people want small town comfort,” added Quance. “We need to look at clarifying our values.”
Annexation is another area the city leaders want examined in the plan. There was recognition among those present that, in order to develop Warsaw and continue to provide the bigger city services and growth that people in outlying areas want, the city’s boundaries will need to be expanded.
Johnson said he will now begin organizing meetings and workshops with special interest groups and gathering information for public surveys to determine other areas, or common concerns, that should be addressed in the comprehensive plan.