By David Hazledine
MILFORD — Forward Kosciusko County, an initiative to create comprehensive plans for both the county and individual towns, held an open house-style planning workshop in Milford Community Building Tuesday evening, June 29. The event, the second to take place in Milford in the last month, was designed to collect data from residents on a range of issues, data which will be used in future stages of the comprehensive planning process.
James Turnwald and Brett Roberts of Michiana Area Council of Governments, a consulting firm administering the planning process, were on hand to guide residents through the workshop, which largely focused on the town of Milford. Also present were Milford Clerk/Treasurer Tricia Gall and Town Councilman Ken Long, who represent Milford on the Forward Kosciusko steering committee.
Tables were arranged around the room and included input and mapping exercises, where residents could not only address what changes they would like to see, but also particular areas where development may occur. Local culture, lakes and waterways, infrastructure, housing and education were among the issues they could offer their opinions, as well as what they liked about Milford and the county.
Brenda Bethel, who lives on Waubee Lake outside Milford and attended the open house with her husband said, “It’s a great opportunity for people to voice our concerns. I hope people take advantage of it.”
“We will have more larger public events as the process unfolds,” said Turnwald. In addition to public events, sessions are also being held with local governments, including Pierceton, Silver Lake, Milford and Leesburg so far.
Pop-up events have also been held at farmers markets, festivals and service club meetings. “We’re trying to get the word out there,” Turnwald commented.
Local governments, Turnwald explained, are most often concerned with day-to-day operations. However, he said, “We also have to think about where we will be in 10 years … Where are we? Where are we going? What do we have to do to get there? … This process challenges us to think about these things.”
While the planning process does not have a precise time frame, 12 to 18 months, Turnwald said residents will begin to see data profiles on the website in coming months. “There is still lots of time to interact with the process,” he added.
Residents who are unable to attend the workshops can make their voices heard on the website: www.forwardkosciusko.com, which includes questionnaires as well as information about the comprehensive plan initiative.