City Notes: Strategic planning continues to define and distinguish New Albany

Jennifer Chrysler
Guest columnist

One of the hallmarks of New Albany is the level of engagement that drives decision-making here.

Last year, the city embarked on its largest planning effort ever, including Engage New Albany, our latest strategic-plan update, the Parks Framework Plan, the Veterans Memorial concept study, the Taylor Farm Park study, a Village Center parking and traffic study and the economic-development plan update. From steering committees to community workshops, more than a thousand residents participated. 

Jennifer Chrysler is director of community development for New Albany.

New Albany’s success at planning has enabled it to avoid the pitfalls that often accompany growth while effectively prioritizing community needs, allocating revenue, guiding private development, maintaining community character, managing public-infrastructure investment and generating income to support services.

Engage New Albany addresses pedestrian-friendly amenities, connectivity, mixed-use environments, residential housing, parks and recreation and environmental sustainability. Recommendations from the 18-month initiative also cover land use, mobility and community well-being.

Plans call for maintaining a strong balance in residential, employment and retail growth and implementing a mobility plan to guide roadway and transportation improvements.

A Village Center parking and traffic study to accommodate growth and a green streets policy to promote sustainability are outgrowths of the planning process.

It also recommends building upon New Albany’s ecological, social and economic sustainability, connecting more residents to parks and recreation and fostering a healthy, supportive and inclusive community.

The Parks Framework Plan continues the tradition of preserving green space, protecting natural features, improving amenities and promoting connectivity. Still in the development phase, the plan will address upgrading neighborhood playgrounds, enhancing neighborhood parks, improving access to parkland preserves and creating regional, all-day destination parks.

The Veterans Memorial concept study proposes a memorial plaza behind Village Hall to honor veterans, first responders and founders.

As a result of the Taylor Farm Park study, a long-awaited addition to the parks system will take shape in 2021 with the anticipated purchase of Taylor Farm at Dublin-Granville and Harlem roads and the first phase of improvements, including trails, landscaping, seating areas and parking.

Eventually, the 97-acre park could include boardwalks across wetlands, inventive play spaces, shade structures and civic spaces for large events, such as festivals or weddings.

Community feedback generated during the strategic-planning process led the city to conduct an extensive traffic analysis of Village Center that culminated in recommendations to mitigate negative traffic impact while supporting growth.

The recommendations became part of the Village Center parking and traffic study, which uses a data-driven approach linking improvements to quantitative measures, such as density, to accommodate growth in New Albany’s retail, restaurant and civic district.  Short- and long-term parking-management strategies will address needs while anticipating future conditions.

The recently completed economic-development plan update reinforces a decision framework that defines the role of economic development across service areas, establishes performance metrics and assesses goals for the city’s incubator, Innovate New Albany.

Initiatives designed to maintain the city’s leadership in business recruitment and expansion include building the area’s competitive workforce, focusing on small-business growth and expanding opportunities within commercial clusters.

Data analytics will guide our business-retention, expansion and attraction strategy, and we will continue to integrate innovation and entrepreneurship within businesses, increase recognition of entrepreneurs and create new pathways to entrepreneurship.

Jennifer Chrysler is director of community development for New Albany.