March 8, 2017 | Spotlight

Institute facilitates stakeholder meetings for Athens planning process

The Institute is providing technical assistance for the Athens-Clarke County government’s broad-based, long-term visioning and planning process.

Writer: Roger Nielsen

Athens-Clarke County’s long-term planning vision will incorporate citizen input from stakeholder workshops that the Institute of Government facilitated.

The Institute provided technical assistance for Envision Athens. Envision Athens is designed to create a broad-based strategy that will inform economic growth and community development over the next 20 years.

Ten Institute faculty members facilitated stakeholder listening sessions Feb. 28 and March 1 to supplement the issues that were identified in an earlier series of public input meetings. The Institute also prepared a summary of the stakeholder proceedings.

At the listening sessions, more than 100 subject matter experts gathered in a series of small groups to refine planning priorities on topics ranging from economic development to education, housing and civic vitality. The small group discussions also covered cultural resources, environment/agriculture, land use, health and safety, social services and transportation and infrastructure.

The Envision Athens process began in January, when more than 500 people attended a series of public workshops organized by planning consultants that the Athens-Clarke County government hired. During the workshops, participants offered ideas about what they wanted Athens to be in 20 years.

The stakeholder meetings that the Institute subsequently facilitated were designed in part to refine and prioritize the issues that people identified at the initial workshops. At least two additional public workshops are planned to reach a consensus on priorities and issues. A final plan is expected to be published this autumn.

The Envision Athens process is supported by the Athens-Clarke County government, the University of Georgia and other major community partners.