Sometimes people will surprise you. Engagement in civic matters, planning committees and visioning sessions can be hot and cold, depending on the topic, on residents’ level of passion about the subject and, let’s face it, sometimes on weather. Residents of Clive and Greater Des Moines are an engaged and active group, but a recent public session on the proposed Clive Town Center, a 10-acre project on NW 114th Street in Clive, reinforced that they will go to great lengths to be educated and involved.
Because of the importance of the project, we made sure Clive residents and business owners were invited to the Open House event in several ways including social media, word of mouth, distribution of materials and through stories in regional print and broadcast media. We engaged employees, stakeholders, council members, city departments, the Clive Chamber and local media to invite people to the Open House.
On an icy cold January night, more than 200 people carefully made their way to the Clive Aquatics Center Special Events Building to see the City of Clive’s proposed Town Center Project. Residents were welcomed by city officials and project consultants who walked them through detailed drawings of five important elements of the proposed project including the overall plan, how the development will pull the Greenbelt into the area to create connectivity and a concept about creating a stronger connection to the nature area near Walnut Creek.
Attendees were invited to fill out comment cards or email commentary to us afterward. In addition to comments and questions from residents that evening fielded by city officials, staff and consultants, another 25 percent of attendees took the time to share their thoughts via comment cards and email. Many expressed excitement about the possibilities of Clive having a true city center that could be a gathering space and others shared concerns about traffic and the type of buildings that would be added. One common thread was the insistence of strong connections to the Greenbelt and plenty of green space.
We invited attendees to subscribe to a new email newsletter starting in March that will be specific to news about the Town Center Project. Those who couldn’t attend the Open House can review all of the information on our website, including drawings and detailed specifications. Because the project is still in its infancy, the long-range communication plan includes having additional town hall style meetings and input sessions.
Recently, Josh Hellyer of the Polk County Housing Trust, posted a guest blog on TPX and it included the quote, “Sustainability is about making connections.” A conference he had attended talked about the importance of community engagement in public projects and, while at times difficult to obtain, that engagement makes projects more meaningful.
The City of Clive has engaged in the objectives of The Tomorrow Plan, creating a long range strategic plan with plans for build out to our maximum expected population of 23,000 from the current population of 16,200 in the next 15 years. Our intention is to continue to invite Clive residents and the Greater Des Moines community to ensure that we are acting locally, but thinking regionally. Along the way, we will continue to engage the community in multiple ways and we hope we continue to be surprised in a good way by level of meaningful feedback from the community. The invitation is open.
Matt McQuillen is the Assistant City Manager at the City of Clive. He oversees and manages the City’s Capital Improvement Plan and Capital Equipment Plan, provides support for the Public Art Commission, directs and manages the IT and Code Enforcement areas for the City, and is responsible for the City’s economic development, serving as the City’s liaison to the business community. Matt also is the City’s program manager for the Town Center project.