Alder Syed Abbas
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Abbas’ Blog
Be A Part of A Greater Madison Vision
This week will mark an important milestone: on Wednesday (today), the public is invited to participate in the A Greater Madison Vision Alternatives Futures Survey. You, and anyone who lives, works or goes to school in Dane County and the surrounding region is invited to participate in the survey at greatermadisonvision.com.
When I became Chair of our regional planning commission, I began to look at other regions in our country. While no region is perfect, some have been more successful. One factor that emerged is a region's ability to work together to identify and solve issues. Regions like Salt Lake City, UT and Research Triangle, NC have emerged as pioneers.
In Salt Lake City, a group called Envision Utah organized a similar visioning effort. At the time, the city, physically located in a valley, was experiencing air quality concerns, stagnant population growth and quality of life anxieties. Through the coalition, supported by an extensive community engagement process that unearthed a common dream, progress was made to reduce traffic congestion, increase public transit (including light rail) and highlight the region's positive attributes.
From 1970 through the 1990's, Salt Lake City's population declined by nearly 16,000 residents or 9%. After the initial Envision Utah visioning process, population grew nearly 14%, fueled by this unique public/private partnership.
While the Research Triangle hasn't gone through an explicit visioning process, the ability for multiple cities and counties to be viewed as a singular entity has propelled the region forward. Population has exploded, an increase of about 85% since 2000, compared to 26% for Dane County. Their experience on how to grow as a region – from merged transit systems, expansion of businesses (especially in technology), and maintaining housing rates – provide potential ways for how our region can go forward.
Over the next two decades it is anticipated that the Greater Madison region will grow by 150,000 people – or two Camp Randall Stadiums. Our population will also be more diverse. Current challenges will continue, and new challenges will emerge if we don't change "business as usual".
Enter A Greater Madison Vision. Three years ago, a group of community leaders from throughout the region, with different backgrounds, ideas and experiences came together to develop a plan for the next 20 years. We developed a more inclusive, engaged and empowered regional planning process so that all voices – not just the loudest or most skilled – are a part of it.
In this survey, we present four different potential future scenarios. The scenarios are designed to engage residents about what could happen and what you would like planners and the community to focus on. There are no 'right' or 'wrong' answer - we seek to understand what the concerns and dreams of the entire community are.
You don't need to be a planner to participate in this survey. It's designed to be quick (under 10 minutes) and all online (including your phone). Participants click and drag scenario components to determine what their own priorities are.
To engage more people, we've made the survey simpler. However, we need more respondents to get a full picture about what are community's vision is. We've reached out to many different communities. We've engaged our young people through an incentive program where entire school communities will be competing with each other to generate the most responses. When you plan for the next 20 years, the future implementers need to be involved.
In the end...
A Greater Madison Vision was created not to do this survey, or even a community vision. The true test of success of a plan is the implementation and repetition of the planning process. How many times have you seen a plan and thought it wouldn't achieve much because it'll just be placed on a shelf, along with all the other plans?
Your response to the survey is only the beginning. When all the voices are pulled together, the true work will begin. When Envision Utah created their first plan, only the blueprint was generated. Light rail didn't just get built because a majority of the residents wanted it. But by using that knowledge, coalitions were formed that worked collaboratively to achieve the dream.
And then they did it all again. With today's rapidly changing environment, planning needs to be a process. A Greater Madison Vision will be that process. You'll be asked again for your engagement and feedback.
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