City planners want public input on the future of Manhattan.
A new website was launched Friday that covers the Manhattan Area Comprehensive Plan update.
Assistant director for planning Eric Cattell said the website was created by a team of consultants hired to update the 2003 plan, which designates where and how the city will grow over the next 20 years.
However, city officials decided to update the plan after only 10 years since population growth has outpaced previous projections.
He said that the growth really began in 2006, when a substantial number of soldiers and their families were stationed at Fort Riley with the return of the First Infantry Division. Soon after, the city won the bid to move the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to Kansas State University campus. Finally, the Kansas Department of Agriculture also decided to move to Manhattan.
Cattell said the website, which also has links to Facebook and Twitter, was created to get more public participation with the process.
He said it is extremely important for the public to tell city officials where and how they want the community to grow.
“A community determines what it wants and how it wants to look and grow in the future,” he said. “Therefore, we need the community tells us what they want.”
Cattell said that the website was created to go beyond the traditional public meeting to entice more people to participate. Not only does the website show current plans, drafts and planned meetings; but it also has forums and questions for the general public to answer.
“It offers a much broader way to participate beyond the typical public meeting,” he said. “The website is a portal to the project for people to get information and participate in discussions.”
Cattell said that inside the city limits, they are focusing on redeveloping areas around K-State for student housing. He said they would like to create housing that will allow students to bike and walk to campus.
Outside the city, officials have partnered with Riley and Pottawatomie county officials to develop those areas as well.
Cattell said the website is for everyone inside the plan’s boundaries, and the hope is to get more people to participate who may not want to attend other forums. Traditional public meetings will also continue to be a part of the project. According to the website, the next community workshop is scheduled for May 14.
He said as agendas and discussion items are developed for that meeting, it will be posted on the website.
Cattell said people can sign up for a newsletter, follow the project on Twitter or just see how the project develops by visiting http://www.manhattan2035.com.