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Featured Business — OV Path Forward, May 2024

The Way Forward

“I was very impressed by the level of community involvement in Oro Valley when I first started working for the town,” recalls Mayor Winfield.

“I asked myself: was this really a reflection of the residents and their demands to be involved, or was it the town that had a high regard for public involvement?”

The answer is both.

Two Sides of the Gold Coin

“Oro Valley is next level in terms of community engagement,” says town Planning Manager Bayer Vella.

One visit to OV Path Forward – where residents can decide on OV’s future – confirms this.

The Arizona state legislature has required community input as part of each town’s general plan and planning process since the 1990s. But OV has always enjoyed a far above-average level of formal and informal community involvement – even as part of its original 1980 General Plan.

A testament to this is the over 3000 responses recently gathered from a survey asking residents what they want for OV’s future, in addition to over 4,800 comments received online or in-person from the community.

The Planning Division came up with the idea of building on this existing community engagement by bringing on board a resident advisory group to help determine the best way to include the community in OV’s future.

After all, who better to determine the best way to engage resident than… the residents themselves?

Peer Group

“Instead of assuming, we put it to them, and took direction from this group of residents,” explains Bayer. Public engagement plans are usually written by planners based on what they believe residents will find important.

“We tried to pick a group that matched OV demographically,” explains Bayer. The resident advisory group was comprised of working families, retirees, youth, and other types of residents to yield a broad cross-section of the populace.

The resident advisory group worked with Town planners and a marketing consultant to develop a schedule, budget, and multi-faceted approach for community engagement.

Selling the Dream

Another breakthrough has been the use of a “marketing approach” to get the public involved.

“We wanted to create a deliberate means to reach out the community to learn more about what are things people value, and what do they want to see,” says Bayer. “We see the process as all about outreach that involves marketing to get people involved.”

The rich, state-of-the-art user experience on the OV Path Forward website is the result.

Portal to the Future

Many government websites can be a bit utilitarian… if not a bit drab. OV really distinguishes itself here.

Working with a marketing consultant, the resident advisory group, and results from a broad community survey, OV Path Forward offers a rich, multi-modal experience, with videos, key statistics, and “Background Reports” (information-packed broadsheet pdfs) that lay out the foundational concerns in several key topic areas:

For example, the Environment & Views section explains how Environmentally Sensitive Lands (ESL) protections were adopted in 2011. It discusses wildlife and Saguaro protection, provides case studies (Sanctuary at Silverhawke; Saguaro Viejos subdivision), and provides stunning maps of our natural resources.

Survey Says

OV Path Forward was developed with information gathered from a broad community survey, with over 3000 responses. Examples of questions presented:

  • Should Oro Valley remain a bedroom suburban community with a high number of work commuters and the current level of retail and restaurant services and housing, or should it strive to be more self-sufficient with more opportunities to shop, work, live, and play within town limits?
  • As the Town grows and infrastructure, like roads, ages, revenues will need to be maintained or possibly increased to maintain service levels. Planning for associated revenue impacts as available land for development becomes scarce. Which of the following would you be most supportive of to generate revenue?
  • Without annexations, Oro Valley has a limited amount of land remaining that is allowed for development. The Town must be strategic about the use of what is remaining. In your opinion, which of the following requires additional focus for Oro Valley to be a more self-sufficient community?

Beat on the Street

As of April 25, the Town has invited the community to participate in over 65 in-person events to provide their ideas and perspectives about OV’s future.

You’ve probably seen the OV Path Forward table at the recreation center, restaurants, intersections, HOA meetings, and other locations around town (“anyone that will have us”, jokes Milini Simms, Principal Planner). The main goal is to spread the word about this exciting opportunity for residents to get involved in OV’s planning process.

You can find the next opportunity to help shape OV’s future on the map at Find OV Path Forward.

“We do more community outreach than any other township,” says Bayer.

And the Award Goes to…

The Oro Valley Community Engagement Plan, which is the guiding document for OV Path Forward, received a much-deserved award from the Arizona Chapter of the American Planning Association in the public outreach category.

Oro Valley’s planners are to be credited for their unseen work as dedicated stewards of the Town and its future. At the end of the day, though, it is the community that will ultimately create and approve the 10-year action plan.

What’s the Plan?

Currently, OV is executing the 2016 General Plan, which is a comprehensive 10-year package of goals and policies. Each 10-year plan is broken into individual 2-year strategic plans.

“The strategic plan tiers off the general plan,” explains Mayor Winfield. “For each general plan, you have five strategic plans…During my tenure, we’ve focused on what actions remain to make good on. It’s not about just having a plan that sits on the shelf, but using the strategic plan to become a blueprint for work plans. I see my job as bringing the community vision to fruition.”

The Town of Oro Valley has now completed, or is working on, an impressive 96% of the 300+ goals in its 2016 General Plan. This is why it is so important for residents to participate in OV Path Forward: this input will provide valuable ideas and perspectives for the 2026 General Plan. This will help ensure that the 2026 General Plan reflects the most current goals of a community that is now reaching a mature, “built out” status (i.e., where growth is not so rapid as in previous decades).

“I give kudos to my predecessors in the past,” says the mayor. “They laid a great foundation…For example, I believe that the wide-open spaces and the natural environment will still be important to our community in 50 years. Because of actions we’ve taken now, those elements will be a part of our lasting legacy.”

Help Plan OV’s Future

Become an active participant in shaping the future of OV by joining the conversations on OVPathForward.com.

 

 

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