A draft version of New Albany's updated strategic plan should be ready at the beginning of December, according to local leaders.

City staff members in summer began seeking community feedback for the plan's update, said Adrienne Joly, director of administrative services for New Albany.

The city's strategic plan, a document that sets a long-range vision for the city's future, covers land use, transportation and community facilities, Joly said.

It is updated every five years, she said. Written in the late 1990s, the plan most recently was updated in 2014, she said.

MKSK, a Columbus firm specializing in landscape architecture, urban design and planning, is being paid up to $212,800 to help lead the update process, according to New Albany spokesman Scott McAfee.

The scope of work will include a three-phase process over an approximate 12-month period, McAfee said. The phases include: project launch and community engagement; visioning and opportunities analysis; and plan synthesis, he said.

Checking in with residents gives city leaders an opportunity to see if local design standards, parks and streetscapes still resonate with people, Joly said.

The land-use component, for example, helps guide the city in making zoning decisions and capital investments, she said.

The five-year updates also provide residents the opportunity to discuss community needs, Joly said.

Public outreach has been conducted via the internet and face-to-face meetings.

The strategic plan's website, newalbanyohio.org/answers/strategic-plan, has had 1,400 visits since its launch in June, Joly said.

New Albany's public events for the plan were attended by 260 people, she said.

"It's a really good turnout for us," she said.

In addition, an online survey -- for which residents could share the city's strengths, areas of improvement or other programs, projects or places in other cities they want to see come to New Albany -- had 490 responses, Joly said.

Now, city officials are moving into the analysis phase of the strategic-plan update, analyzing feedback from survey results, public meetings and workshops, Joly said, as well as transportation modeling.

Transportation modeling refers to using computer simulations to project traffic 20 years into the future based on different inputs from MORPC's regional transportation model, according to McAfee.

"This data informs the city and its consultants where street improvements may be needed in the future," he said.

Near the end of October or early November, the city will post survey results on its website, newalbanyohio.org, Joly said.

During a public workshop scheduled Dec. 5, the city will review a draft version of the strategic plan and gather more feedback, she said.

The adoption process would occur at the end of spring 2020, Joly said.

The city's planning commission will review the plan and make a recommendation to New Albany City Council, she said. The city will hold public hearings before council members vote, she said.

Strategic planning is important for the city because planning is in New Albany's DNA, Mayor Sloan Spalding said. The then-village's first strategic plan was completed in 1998, Spalding said. New Albany became a city in 2011 after surpassing the U.S. Census Bureau's population threshold of 5,000.

"The current effort, Engage New Albany, is our most ambitious effort yet and strives to gather robust information and direction directly from New Albany residents, employees and area organizations and employers," Spalding said.

The strategic plan is a roadmap for where New Albany should be headed, he said.

Ultimately, the implementation of the plan will affect a number of critical areas, such as future land use, greenspace designation, road connectivity, transportation and parking, retail development and municipal services, Spalding said.

"It is no surprise based on past history and the investment that the city and staff have made during the outreach phase that the new strategic plan will be impactful," he said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah