More than 100 residents attended the first public meeting for Grandview Heights' community planning process, dubbed Growing on Tradition.

The goal for the April 10 meeting at the Wyman Woods Park shelter was to gather feedback from residents as the city plans for what's to come, said Grandview Heights City Council President Greta Kearns.

"We need to develop ideas and be creative and develop a strategic plan that is based on residential input and that will inform our decision-making in the future," she said.

The turnout for the meeting "was beyond what I dreamed of," Kearns said. "It's indicative of what this community is -- people coming out and being supportive and really wanting to get engaged and involved."

It's been 21 years since Grandview last completed a comprehensive community plan, Mayor Ray DeGraw said.

"That process worked very well for us, but we're at a different point now," he said. "We have an opportunity to look at how we want to direct the community for the next 10 or 20 years.

"Fifteen years ago, we were happy that we could pick up the trash," DeGraw said, referring to the city's strapped financial situation after Big Bear shut down its Goodale Boulevard headquarters in 2004.

Now, with Grandview Yard and other development, "we have an opportunity to dream of what we want to do for the future," he said.

Putting a plan together

The Growing on Tradition process will take about a year to complete and includes two separate efforts.

A "community plan" process is being guided by McBride Dale Clarion, a Cincinnati-based planning firm.

A "civic spaces and places plan" process is being led by NBBJ, a Columbus firm that led the city's last planning process in 1997.

"They are separate processes that will be coming together at the end," DeGraw said.

The community plan will serve as the city's "aspirational vision," said Greg Dale of McBride Dale Clarion.

"It's a statement of intent," he said. "It's a guide for the city and for when people want to come in to develop something, to build something, to redevelop something."

The guidelines will allow city leaders to determine not just whether a development is a good one, but whether it fits into the vision the community has set for itself, Dale said.

The spaces and places process will look at city facilities, including the administration offices, police and fire departments and parks and recreation areas.

The core part of the process will involve "assessing the city facilities to see if they are serving (residents) the best they can and how we can add to them to make them even better," said Kim Way, principal at NBBJ.

Parks and recreation facilities and other civic elements will be reviewed as to how they can be enhanced or expanded to tie together all areas of the community, he said.

The city's plans to move the service department to land it purchased on McKinley Avenue will free up about 2 acres at Grandview Avenue and Goodale Boulevard that could be "reprogrammed," DeGraw said.

Participation counts

At the April 10 meeting, residents were split into small groups, and each group was asked to participate in two mapping activities.

In the first, each group marked a map of Grandview with green, red and blue lines.

The green areas were those residents wanted to see preserved and unchanged; red identified areas they believe need to change; and blue marked areas that fell in the middle, where some concerns exist and some changes may be warranted.

The maps will be digitized and combined, Dale said, creating an overall map that will show areas of bold green or red and likely many areas of various shades of purple.

In the second exercise, residents marked areas on the city map they believed contribute to civic life now and others that currently do not contribute but have the potential to do so.

In the coming months, several more large-scale public meetings will be held to gather input on community aspirations and vision and guiding principles from residents, Dale said. A final public meeting will include a presentation of the draft community plan.

Online engagement surveys will be conducted and planners will meet with focus groups representing various elements of the community, he said.

Steering committees also will be formed for both the community and the civic spaces and places efforts.

Those interested in serving on one or both committees may send resumes and letters of intent to dnicodemus@grandviewheights.org by May 1.

'Hear the buzz'

Public input is vital is ensure the final plan reflects the community's vision, DeGraw said.

The turnout for the meeting was a good start, he said.

"We had a good mix of all demographics; all ages, genders and areas of our community were represented," DeGraw said.

Kearns said she was gratified that people came eager to engage in the process.

"There was a lot of good conversation going on," she said. "You could hear the buzz in the room. It was a chance for people from different parts of the community to come together and share ideas."

Grandview Heights resident Jarvis Woodson said he was excited about having the chance to contribute to shaping the city's future vision.

"My wife and I chose to move to Grandview a year and a half ago because we like the community," he said. "I think this process will be a good way to help maintain and improve on what makes Grandview such an appealing place.

"I was surprised that this first meeting already included public participation. I thought it would be mostly a presentation.

"I really enjoyed getting to meet other people in the community and talk about our city. It was a really positive discussion."

Information about the planning effort will be updated throughout the process at www.grandviewheights.org/growingontradition.

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