About

When it came time to do a new comprehensive plan for the future of Newton and North Newton, City officials wanted to approach the process with a fresh perspective.

With a growing population, new City projects breaking ground, and all the goals of the last comprehensive plan accomplished, it was the perfect time to create a new vision for the community’s future, while hopefully renewing (pun intended) people’s interest in being involved in the community.

Something Different

Traditionally, a comprehensive plan outlines a framework for future town growth, as well as the redevelopment or enrichment of already-established areas. According to Tom Phillips of Phillips and Associates — a planning firm based in Manhattan, Kan., hired to lead the process — comprehensive plans are, as their name indicates, comprehensive in their scope and outlook. They cover a broad range of big-picture issues that impact a community’s growth, such as roads, water, and sewer utilities.

But members of The ReNewton Project wanted to look beyond such traditional planning areas to also include quality-of-life issues, and ways the community can grow and compete for new businesses and residents in the future.

A Guide for the Future

The comprehensive plan, adopted by both Newton and North Newton, serves as a guide for community decision makers — both those who are in office today, as well as those who will become involved over the next two decades. It is a living document that offers a clear set of goals, policies, and strategies to help Newton retain its local heritage and identity, while managing its growth and strengthening its sense of community in the future.

City Manager Randy Riggs pointed out that a comprehensive plan — or comp plan, as it’s referred to by those in the biz — keeps City leaders from making isolated decisions that move the city away from its long-term goals.

The Power of Community

Ultimately, Phillips noted, a comprehensive plan will only be effective if the citizenry understands its goals and works alongside government officials to make it come to life.

“Implementing this plan will require more than a stamp of approval at City Hall,” Phillips said. “The hard work it will take to make the plan’s vision come true will require everyone to be involved. The hopes, aspirations, and desires for the entire region rest within the people of Newton, and the leaders they elect now and in the future.”

Insights

“We’ve accomplished everything we set forth in the previous plan in 1998. Times have changed, people have changed, and opportunities have presented themselves that were not present here 12 years ago.”
— Tim Johnson, assistant city manager

“The plan must be viewed by local decision makers as a source of collective wisdom to build a better community. It provides preferred methods, principles, and standards to community leaders to help them manage change in ways that move the city ahead toward a common goal.”
— Tom Phillips, project consultant

“If we don’t have those plans and values in front of us, then any whim will do, and that creates problems for communities if they don’t stay focused on where they want to be.”
— Randy Riggs, city manager