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Published: Wednesday, 7/6/2011

Desires of Waterville residents for future are solicited

Survey to help with update of city plan


As the city of Waterville updates its comprehensive plan, residents are being asked to fill out a community survey.

The survey, available online or in paper form at the Municipal Building, 25 North Second St., is one of the first steps in the yearlong comprehensive-plan project.

Responses will be important in assisting the Waterville Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee to develop goals and strategies for the plan, according to the city.

Although the survey can be filled out anytime in the coming several months, residents and others interested in replying are asked to complete it as soon as possible.

Nearly 200 have completed it so far.

James Bagdonas, municipal administrator, said results will be used to help guide the comprehensive plan, which he described as a land-use document to help the city make decisions about growth and development, such as where public facilities (infrastructure, for instance) may be needed.

It asks, too, what type of development, such as residential, commercial, office, manufacturing, or mixed uses, people would like to see in the vicinity of the new U.S. 24 interchange.

The plan is expected to be updated in about a year. The city's cost for the update is $34,000 for a contract with Mannik & Smith Group Inc., Mr. Bagdonas said.

In 2000, when the comprehensive plan was last updated, 728 people filled out the survey, he said.

Public meetings will be held for milestones along the way, he said, noting that the steering committee meetings are public.

The city has asked Mannik & Smith to devote attention to the 120 acres owned by the city on the northern end of Waterville, Mr. Bagdonas said. Public input will be sought on what should or could be situated on that property.

Glenn T. Grisdale, principal with Reveille in Bowling Green who is working with Mannik & Smith on the update, said the first snapshot of survey results will be captured at month's end to find out what "folks are saying and to set us in the right direction."

Early responses will reveal opinions about the physical components of the community, about quality of life, and about issues to be addressed, Mr. Grisdale said.

The survey will continue to be open for responses during the planning process, he said, and perhaps new ideas will surface in the 11th or 12th month of the process.

At the Web site, yourcommunity.me, the survey can be found under the projects tab.

The survey can be turned in anonymously, but respondents can give their names and indicate if they would want to volunteer for a Waterville community event or committee.

Residents, property owners, business owners, potential business owners, and others are invited to complete the survey.

It is estimated that completing the survey will take five minutes.

The survey will help planners outline where the community has been and where the city will be heading in the coming years. Possibilities will be envisioned, Mr. Grisdale said.

Although some people might think that a comprehensive plan needs lots of dollars to implement those possibilities, Mr. Grisdale said that human interaction and human participation should not be overlooked or undervalued.

He pointed out that pioneers drained the Great Black Swamp and turn it into the place where we live today, all without government intervention and without grants or loans.

"People tend to forget that," Mr. Grisdale said. "We try to rejuvenate an individual spirit for what can be during these planning processes."

The survey asks what people want to see in their community, such as more retail businesses, more park land, more manufacturing facilities, he said.

Charts and graphs of survey results will be included in the comprehensive plan, which is to have sections on population and demographics (how the community has changed, how it is aging, what the education level of its residents is, etc.), economic development, land use and design, infrastructure, quality of life, housing, parks and recreation, and green technology (how the community can go green to save costs on utilities, for instance), and a section on implementation, outlining who will help implement the plan, Mr. Grisdale said.

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