City Seeks Public Input In Strategic Planning

The City of Yankton is preparing for another round of strategic planning, and officials want the public’s input on the direction the city takes in the coming years.

According to City Manager Amy Leon, this year’s session — set for Oct. 21-22 — will follow a different format.

“We’re using a different vendor this year than we have in the past,” she said. “It’s RDG out of Omaha, Nebraska, and they have a little bit of a different process. The group that looked at the proposal thought that their process was interesting, so the commission decided to move forward with a contract with them.”

While past strategic planning sessions have been limited to a couple of days, this year’s is already underway, in a sense.

“What’s happening right now is there is a community-wide survey which anyone can fill out on our website,” she said. “That will give the facilitator a lot of information about the thoughts that are in the community.”

In the survey, the public is asked to give ratings on several questions relating to:

• Community Image and Values;

• Economic Development;

• Housing;

• Public and Community Services;

• Parks, Recreation and Culture;

• Transportation.

Participants are also asked to highlight what they believe are the city’s greatest assets and what community projects or priorities should be at the forefront for the city.

The survey will be available online through Monday.

In addition to the public survey, the city has also reached out to a number of individuals to form focus groups which will meet next Tuesday and Wednesday to deliberate over the results of the survey and give their own input.

“Our department head team will spend the day with the facilitator on Thursday all day,” Leon said. “Then our facilitator will work with the commission, finance officer, Ross Den Herder and myself all day on Friday.”

While some past strategic planning sessions have included activities open to the public at large during the actual planning sessions, Leon said this go-around, the survey is the public portion of the session.

“They do have the focus groups, which are invited,” she said. “We did the best we could to get a really good cross-section of the community.”

However, she said the public will get to hear the results of the strategic planning sessions and have a say in whether or not the city adopts it.

“Once we have the plan returned back from our facilitator — probably at the beginning of 2022 — there will be a public opportunity to hear the plan presented and get feedback on the plan,” she said.

Leon said the city ultimately wants an active strategic plan that will take it through 2025.

“The end product is really updating the strategic plan matrix that we have,” she said. “It may look a little different, but one of the things I wanted to be sure of is we still have a usable strategic plan that’s not just something that sits on the shelf, but something that can be used day to day.”

She added that some of the session will be dedicated to looking back on how far the city has come.

“We want to revisit our mission and make sure that’s serving our organization,” she said. “The vision statements that we made a few years ago, we want to revisit and see, ‘Is that still the vision we want to hold for our community?’ We have some values and trends that drive our decision making. We’ve had a lot of changes in the world and in our community since then, so those may need to be revisited, tweaked or maybe changed. Another goal that I have is to recognize all of the success that we’ve had in the last three years and talk about why things worked the way they did, when they worked and talk about where we didn’t succeed

But Leon said the ultimate goal is to begin plotting the path the city will take in the coming years.

“There’s the goal of really looking forward,” she said. “What’s the big ‘quality of life’ project that we want to work on? Where do we stand in terms of our infrastructure projects? What is our next big infrastructure project? What kind of community do we want to see in the downtown and our commercial areas? Those big questions that we don’t get a chance, at our business meetings, to talk about.”

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To take the city’s strategic planning survey, visit https://www.cityofyankton.org/home and click the link on the homepage.

Follow @RobNielsenPandD on Twitter.

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