How are plans for Hamilton’s future shaping up?
The public will get a look during this weekend’s Operation Pumpkin festival at an early version of the Plan Hamilton comprehensive plan that is intended to establish a 10-to-15-year vision for Hamilton’s physical development.
The preliminary Plan Hamilton version, which consultant Wendy Moeller of Blue Ash-based Compass Point Planning estimated is one-third of the way complete, will be on display during an open house at Miami University Hamilton’s downtown location, 221 High St., during the entire Operation Pumpkin.
Operation Pumpkin’s hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Moeller estimated the plan will be completed this spring.
“We also have the riverfront plan, which is a separate process, but they’re obviously inter-related,” said Moeller, who is the owner and principal planner of Compass Point. “They are going to have materials to share as well.”
Moeller said primary topics for the plan are land-use development, including the Great Miami riverfront; traffic and pedestrian ease of movement; and parks and recreation.
City Manager Joshua Smith recently told this media outlet, “The city is still working through the strategic plan update, but generally speaking the focus will be riverfront development; continued revitalization of High/Main Street; and an emphasis on all 17 neighborhoods.”
The riverfront development could extend from the proposed Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill mega-sports complex on North B Street southward along the western shore of the Great Miami River to the Columbia Bridge, or further south, to near the Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park.
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“We’re nowhere close to having a written plan,” Moeller said. “These are just preliminary discussions of issues, and identification of issues, still. We’re still in the first third of the plan. This is just starting to narrow down the discussions we had as part of the neighborhood meetings in July and August.”
City officials are creating focus groups that will include residents, city staffers and officials from regional organizations, such as the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, which makes significant recommendations for which transportation projects in the tri-state area should receive funding; and the Butler County Engineer’s Office.
Originally, the unveiling was to occur last Monday, but those plans were changed, partly because, “Not everyone wants to come out to a public meeting, and we get that,” Moeller said. “In discussions with (city) staff, they just thought it was better if we shifted everything to the Operation Pumpkin, because then we’d have a lot more people coming through.”
Consultants or city staff will be present during most hours of Operation Pumpkin to talk with the public about the plan. People will have the opportunity to offer their input.
Moeller noted residents from some areas of Hamilton did not participate in the public-input process so far.
“We’re still trying to do different things to get some more community engagement,” she said. “We obviously had some areas of the city where people didn’t come out for the community meetings. So we’re looking to find some ways — either community organizations and sending stuff home through the schools or different ways to get more people involved.”
“We’re going to be doing some online surveys … We’re not done with public engagement, by any means,” she said.