Heartland 2050 project plans the future

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July 17th, 2013

Mayor Jean Stothert is joined by members of Heartland 2050, the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at the National Park Service in Omaha. (Photo Courtesy KVNO News)

Mayor Jean Stothert is joined by members of Heartland 2050, the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at the National Park Service in Omaha. (Photo Courtesy KVNO News)

Omaha, NE — The Metropolitan Area Planning Agency launched Heartland 2050’s visioning project Wednesday (July 17) at the National Park Service headquarters in Omaha.

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The Omaha-Council Bluff’s metro area is in for some big changes in the years ahead and city officials want residents to be a part of the process every step of the way.

The goal of Heartland 2050 is to develop a strategic vision for the region’s development over the next 30 years. Citizens in Douglas, Sarpy, Cass, Saunders and Washington counties in Nebraska; and Harrison, Mills and Pottawattamie counties in Iowa, will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on housing, transportation, infrastructure and land use.

“To ensure that we develop a successful vision, we want to hear from everyone in this community,” said Greg Youell, executive director of MAPA. “Every voice matters and it is our intention to invite all the residents of the region to share their values with us over the next three months.”

Metro residents will have the opportunity to complete surveys based on their individual values in the first phase of the project this summer. The information will then be compiled into visual and interactive scenarios to illustrate options and costs during the second phase, which will kick off Oct. 7 at the MidAmerica Center.

“This short survey asks residence of the region to think about what they care about most and what bothers them about their community,” said Linda Washburn, executive director of Mills County economic development foundation. “The survey data will become an important factor for the ideas we will eventually develop together and the vision we will define by the end of the project.”

The third phase, which begins in the spring, will allow citizens in each county to develop alternative futures for the region. The project will culminate in the fourth phase in the fall of 2014 with a regionally preferred vision for the region based on findings from the previous phases. The vision will then be adopted by the region’s stakeholders and brought to fruition.

“I believe it’s important for us to critically and carefully think about how our region will develop over the next 30 years,” said Tom Hanafan, mayor of the City of Council Bluffs. “We’re all in this together and this is the time for us to consider what really matters: our quality of life, safety, education and what kind of future we want for our children, our grandchildren and for ourselves.”

John Fregonese said cities like Chicago, Baton Rouge, La., and Salt Lake City, Utah have greatly benefitted from visioning efforts. His company, Fregonese Associates, will provide interactive community events over the next year for the project.

“What all of these successful regional visions have in common is that they are customized,” Fregonese said. “They are based on local values, they work with local ideas and they end up with solutions that really fit a local area.”

MAPA is also working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Iowa West Foundation on Heartland 2050.

If you would like to participate in this community-wide survey, just log on to www.Heartland2050.org.

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