20/20 Vision for Concord, NH: City of Villages *
A group of civic-minded residents teamed with the City of Concord to address coming challenges including projected population expansion of 8000 residents in 20 years, the proposed widening of I-93, a planned Manchester Airport expansion, increasing concern over the preservation of open space, and the creation of urban growth boundaries within the city. Vision 20/20 for Concord, NH was the result of a major planning grant from the Federal Highway Administration and sought to answer questions such as:
- What information do residents need to know to make informed choices about their future city?
- How can we diversify the economy and support a vibrant downtown?
- Can the city grow while protecting open space and recreational spaces and pathways?
- How can the planning process help to create the political will to implement the vision?
Challenges were met by conducting an intensive public participation process over 18 months that explored commonly-held beliefs about density, economic development and the Interstate Highway 93. Through this process, resident goals and aspirations were matched with the planning tools and development scenarios most likely to achieve success. The team visualized and articulated possible futures for the city to help residents make informed choices. Results-oriented goals were also presented, around which the community and volunteers could rally and move forward. The powerful ideas and tools presented in the Vision were carried forward by Concord 20/20 (http://www.concord2020.org).
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- Developed a vision celebrating the villages (neighborhoods of Concord) through the lenses of three themes: natural and historic environment, economic vitality, transportation
- Supported higher-density neighborhoods with desired attributes such as walkability, affordability, and amenities
- Identified development sites to create a vibrant, livable downtown
- Created a conceptual framework and public support that fostered development in six villages of the city, including downtown
- Created a public-private leadership alliance to carry forward vision implementation
- Utilized existing infrastructure to create trail systems and access points from villages to natural environment
- Recommended formation of an economic re-development entity to spur growth of publically owned parcels
- Focused efforts on the “opportunity corridor” along I-93 and through the downtown
- Designed scenario for I-93 widening that preserves the character of Concord while easing congestion caused by the “lakes/mountains” through-traffic
- Evaluated development proposals against goals of the vision plan by establishing criteria and a scorecard
*Goody, Clancy & Associates, Inc.: Susan Silberberg, Project Manager