When designing a comprehensive plan, Phillip Carlson, a consultant with Stantec, said it's important for city officials to ask themselves one question.
"What can it be?" he iterated during a presentation Wednesday night in the city council chambers.
Carlson returned to talk about areas the firm has focused on since a meeting in March.
T-R PHOTO BY DAVID ALEXANDER
Mayor Thomas (Tommy) Thompson looks at designs for the comprehensive plan in the Marshalltown City Council Chambers Wednesday night. A representative from Stantec, a consulting firm, detailed several ideas to help Marshalltown citizens realize their vision for the town in the upcoming years during his presentation.
The firm has been working with the city for the past 18 months to develop a design plan for the city through 2030. Carlson said the ideas he presented represented the fourth phase of a five phase process that will determine what direction the city will take in the upcoming decades.
At a previous meeting, the firm gathered ideas from community members as to where to expand, areas that need more attention and potential areas of growth and degradation.
"Hopefully, it will touch what is important in Marshalltown," he said of the plan.
The plan aims to take key ideas from different areas - including those from City Center plan, state legislature and the 7 Big Ideas campaign - and incorporate them into the 2030 plan. It focused on several areas designed to improve the overall aesthetic of the city as well as land use.
Carlson said two main areas of improvement underscore the plan: design standards and connectivity. Seven areas of town - neighborhoods near JBS, Center and Anson Streets, 13th Street, Madison Street and Lincolnway, Third Avenue near Riverview Park, downtown and South Center Street - are the main focus for improvement.
One of the aspects of the community that Carlson said many people would like to see improved is its pedestrian access. Making Marshalltown easier to navigate by foot or by bike will contribute to the overall health and happiness of citizens, he said.
It will also improve property values, he added.
"Nationwide, people will pay more to live in a walkable neighborhood," he said.
Michelle Spohnheimer, housing and community development director, said the biggest challenge has been getting the public involved in giving the city feedback on what it wants to see in Marshalltown.
She said the city wants the plan to represent the citizens of Marshalltown and the kind of community in which they want to live.
As for design, Carlson said city officials should decide how they want to structure local ordinances and codes to ensure the sort of layout for which they are striving.
Ideas Stantec incorporated into the plan reveal that citizens want to see more green space, broken up facades and streetscapes. They want less industrial zones mixed in with residential zones.
Carlson also said avoiding sprawling rural areas will encourage economic development in the future.
"We want to encourage compact, orderly development next to the city," he said.
Stephen Troskey, city planner, said the plan, which borrows many of its ideas from larger cities like Minneapolis, doesn't aim to turn Marshalltown into something it's not. Stantec designs comprehensive plans for communities of all sizes.
Just because larger cities have more people and, consequently, broader tax revenue doesn't mean smaller cities cannot take some of those ideas and run with them, he said.
"You do the best with what you have got," he said. "If you believe your town will be a rundown dumpy community, then that is what it will be. If you want to live in a nice community, then that is what it will be."
It's all about how the community perceives itself, he said.
The next public comprehensive plan meeting will be 5:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 25 in the Marshalltown City Council Chamber, 10 W. State St.