Bartlesville City leaders have entered a new phase in a month-long process of re-evaluating their mission, values and organizational practices.
The City Strategic Plan, a project undertaken by city employees and consultants from Arizona-based Mejorando Group, culminated in a preliminary draft of the final document prepared by the city project team using public input from more than 800 Bartlesville residents.
The city team, which includes Bartlesville Mayor Dale Copeland, City Manager Mike Bailey and five city government directors, will continue to refine the document in a process expected to be completed by June 22.
In developing the plan, the team carefully considered the extensive public input collected and analyzed by Mejorando Group, Bailey said in a statement. Public contributions identified the strengths and challenges faced by the community – with challenges such as the need for more entertainment options that can be addressed through economic development.
However, some of the needs that are commonly voiced in public contributions typically fall outside the city’s purview – making it difficult to address them directly in the strategic plan that is to be produced.
“While the city has traditionally not been involved in homelessness or child care, the group explored opportunities for the city to advocate for, and potentially be a part of, solutions to these and other challenges in our community,” Bailey said in a statement about the process.
During the face-to-face public input session held as part of the project on March 29th, Patrick Ibarra, advisor to the Mejorando Group, was asked a question more than once – haven’t we done this before?
Ibarra’s company will receive $65,000 for their work on the comprehensive strategic plan. It’s not the first time an outside firm has been hired to assist the City of Bartlesville in assessing local challenges and opportunities — and while collecting some of the same data and public input, these projects had different focuses.
Comprehensive strategic plans were produced by the city every few years between 1999 and 2013, but each focused on a different aspect of the community – without taking an in-depth look at the city’s internal structure and goals, as is the goal of the current plan is .
In addition, not all of them involved hiring an outside consultant.
Previous iterations of this process have focused on a variety of issues, including affordable housing, parks and recreation, and the rehabilitation of areas of Bartlesville, including downtown, western Bartlesville, and the Highway 75 corridor.
These projects included a 2004 strategic plan undertaken by Ambler Architects for the city to create a vision for downtown Bartlesville’s redevelopment.
The process included a public survey, a public community planning meeting, two days of local issue focus groups and a travel marketing study. In the final report, Ambler Architects proposed several measures to attract businesses and consumers to the city center.
Several of the goals outlined in the 2004 report were achieved within four years. A 2009 update lists actions taken by the city to follow the 2004 plan, including the creation of the Bartlesville Redevelopment Trust Authority and the creation of tax districts for downtown residential and retail financing.
Based on recommendations from the 2004 report, the city also invested $1.3 million in downtown infrastructure, including adding parking lots and turning lanes to Frank Phillips Boulevard and other streets for easier maneuvering.
The most recent such project was a 2013 plan related to local quality of life and retail offerings – an update of a 2006 plan. The planning process, conducted by contractor Angelou Economics, included hosting public focus groups, roundtable discussions, one-on-one interviews, a Online survey and analysis of data.
In the final report, Angelou Economics identified Bartlesville’s “most pressing challenge” as its lack of attractiveness to young professionals and those under 45, “due to its limited entertainment, nightlife and leisure options.” The company described this as something that would limit “all aspects of community growth.”
The company produced an in-depth report on the community’s retail and restaurant mix and proposed several specific actions for the city – including prioritizing retail and restaurants as a market industry.
Since the 2013 study, the Bartlesville Development Agency has focused on this, leading to the redevelopment of the Eastland Shopping Center, the Shoppes at Turkey Creek and the Silver Lake Village Shopping Center.
Reports of Bartlesville’s previous strategic plans can be found on the city’s website.