SPURS PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS
TOWARDS A NEW VISION FOR THE COMMUNITY,
INNOVATIVE SITE PLANNING AND
In June of 2005, the Village received funding in the amount of $40,000 from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, to initiate a 4-prong strategy designed to complement the Village of Olympia Fields Economic Development, Goals and Objectives. Representative Robin Kelly and President Linzey D. Jones were instrumental in securing this funding to advance the Village’s planning objectives.
The first element involved a comprehensive strategic planning process to develop, for the first time, a Visioning Plan setting forth goals, objectives and strategies to improve the Village’s economic base and overall quality of life. The second and third element provided DCEO money, as seed money, to spawn the creation of two public/private partnerships to facilitate and advance the development of two Area Master Plans for an innovative mixed use transit oriented development site plan. The fourth element segregates the development contributions to produce an innovative “Economic Development Web Page” designed to target and market retail broker interest for future economic expansion.
DCEO monies allowed the Village to advertise for a Request For Proposals that culminated in the selection of a joint venture between Teska and Associates and Business Districts, Inc. (BDI). The consulting team worked with the Village Administrator, David A. Mekarski, AICP to assemble a cross-sectional representation of the Village’s business, institutional and residential communities to brainstorm and craft a series of goals, objectives and strategies that will serve as a foundation for new public policy to enhance the Village’s quality of life. Over a series of public workshops, some 75 key stakeholders were brought together to craft a Visioning Statement and Operational Objectives in the areas of education, commercial development, municipal service delivery and image enhancement. For each operational objective, specific strategies were delineated which serves as a mechanism to prioritize legislative action and future appropriations for program development.
President Linzey D. Jones, in his statements to the Visioning team, remarked that “… the Comprehensive Visioning Plan serves as a benchmark for all actions of our current Board of Trustees and future Boards to come. DCEO funding has clearly strengthened the Village’s representative process by creating a new democratic, deliberative dialogue on public policy.”
To stimulate economic development starts, on key vacant parcels throughout the Village, a full public-private partnership was established with key development interest within the Village. DCEO monies were combined with contributions from the Village’s development community to increase our available resources from $40,000 to a total of $70,000. The $30,000 match by the private sector franchised the development community into the planning process. Teska and Associates/BDI, worked with the Village Administrator’s Office to create a “Special Area Master Plan ADHOC Planning Committee”, to explore a series of alternative development scenarios for each of the two sites targeted in the DCEO Grant. The planning process forged two new innovative mixed-use development scenarios that complemented the Village’s economic development objectives and fostered the creation of transit-oriented design for each of the Final Site Plans.
Stymied for months prior to the DCEO Planning Process and locked in an adversarial relationship that hampered both the economic development objectives of the development community and the quality of life objectives of the Village and its Residents, the DCEO planning process fostered consensus with land owners, developers, community leaders, as well as appointed and elected officials. As to date both “Special Areas” have achieved concept approval of the “Preferred Development Plan” by both the Olympia Fields Plan Commission and the Board of Trustees. “The consensus process has encourage new economic interest to proceed toward preliminary planning and engineering, the Village is now in negations with a major retail anchor on the Gateway Parcel and a national homebuilder on the Tolentine Site”, President Jones remarked.
Clearly the DCEO Comprehensive Visioning, Area Master Planning, and Economic Development Process has greatly enhanced the Villages quality of Life. Most notably, the Visioning Process forged the idea to create for the first time in Village’s history a “Blue Ribbon Commission” to move our community on the path of Educational Excellence. Mayor Jones is quoted as saying…“When we began to work in the Visioning Process with our key stakeholders on the elements that enhance or detract for economic sustainability, the quality of our educational system kept coming up to the surface”….”We soon recognized that Economic Development cannot be achieved without a commitment of 100% of our community toward improving the educational opportunity for our children”…”All economic interest are tied to the strength of a communities educational system”.
This realization advanced the formulation of new public policy and local Ordinance creating the “Olympia Fields Educational Commission”. The 15-member Commission will be funded by Local Appropriation and will be empowered to benchmark our school districts with the best school districts within the region and State. This “Visioning Landmark” will forge a new partnership with local government, independent school districts, community leaders, parents and our entire business and residential community toward a new path of Educational Excellence. “If not for our commitment from Governor Blagojevich and DCEO to support out Comprehensive Economic Development, Planning and Visioning Process, the Dreams of our Community would not come to fruition”…”While we have much work to complete, this community is united behind a common cause, a common vision for our future!” Mayor Jones exclaimed.
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