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Brockport creating first solo strategic plan

by Shelby Toth - Executive Editor
Thu, Feb 21st 2019 01:00 pm

For the first time, the Village of Brockport is creating its own comprehensive plan. For years prior, the village typically joined with the Town of Sweden to have a joint plan. However, according to village trustee Katherine Kristansen, it was time for a change.

“It was a long time coming, because we tried to go through grants, we tried to use combination comprehensive plans with the town but because the village and the town are so different, we decided we need to go on our own,” Kristansen said. “We finally bit the bullet and hired a planning firm.”

The group they hired to help construct the plan is Ingalls Planning, based out of Fairport. Deputy clerk-treasurer Erica Linden, who is Ingall’s main representative for the project, described the comprehensive plan as a “living document,” meaning it will be reviewed and revised consistently. The plan will help to guide the village for the next few years on various decisions. She also described it as necessary for the government to function in a certain way.

“I mean there are legal requirements to have [a comprehensive plan] in order to make certain changes in your law, in your code,” Linden said. “It will allow us to assess zoning regulations in a way that we haven’t been able to do before.”

Kristansen, who described the plan as a “vision,” explained that by having this plan, there will be a sense of continuity as the village government changes and shifts. By having the plan in place, she hopes that the village can continue to move in a more steady path.

Both Kristansen and Linden sit on an advisory committee for the comprehensive plan. Other members include a representative from Brockport Student Government, Daniel Jimenez, a representative from the Community Development Office of The College at Brockport and local landlords and business owners, as well as other members of the community.

Currently, Linden explained, the project is in a “data-gathering stage,” where those involved are attempting to gather as much information and as many demographics as they can, including questions on how community members use the services currently provided by the village, how often college students travel into the village and how different people use the recreation and parks of the village. To gather this information, Ingall interviewed all the department heads of the village, issued a survey online and through the village newsletter and went to the college to interview students.

“The results were overwhelming that folks are satisfied with majority of their departments and seem to be happy about what it is that they are getting from there taxes here in the village,” Linden said. “…Really, we were trying to understand how people access the services and assets that we have and where are the gaps, what are we missing, how can we help drive our community to be more successful and fill the needs of its residents, whether they’re temporary, part-time or full-time.”

While those involved cannot currently disclose the results of the survey, Linden noted that two primary values to be revealed from the data-gathering are historic preservation and walkability/rideability into the village.

So far, the process has been going well, according to Kristansen.

“A lot of good things have happened, and a lot of work has been done in the last four to five years, and we would like to keep that motion going even as the boards change because we’re on a roll,” Kristansen said. “I mean, we’ve never had it as good with the college as we do now. The village board itself is an active board whose [members] work together, and we all have our strengths and we want to see this move forward, keep going in the right direction.”

Linden explained that the village is hoping for a draft of the plan to be out before June, and a completed product before college students return in late August. When the draft is finished, there will be a public meeting to discuss it,  and it will be posted online and made available on other formats for people to read it.

When the actual comprehensive plan comes out, the goal is for it to be very accessible for everyone in the village.

“We’re moving right along with it and it’s going to be very exciting to see what the final product looks like,” Kristansen said. “They have guaranteed us that it will be very usable, very user-friendly, very readable and short and to-the-point, because that’s what you want with a comprehensive plan… It’s not going to be just a dream.”

Along with being able to assess zoning regulations there are hopes to use the plan to be able to help apply for grants, revitalize the canal front and assist with any infrastructure needs. The plan will also directly affect students in many ways, perhaps the biggest being housing.

According to Kristansen, there were many houses in the village previously unsafe for students to live in. The village has already worked in conjunction with the college to help alleviate the issue, and the plan will only aid in that area even more.

“It’s huge, I mean you guys are not going away,” Kristansen said. “You’re staying. We want you to stay. We need to have a plan that helps everybody to have that quality of life. Everybody. And this is going to help us do it. It’s going to bring us into the zoning and into codes that need to be updated.”

This will be the first time the village has its own plan outside of the town. However, according to Sweden town Supervisor Kevin Johnson, there is no hard feelings between the two municipalities.

“In terms of what went into the decision, why they didn’t adopt the common plan, I have no idea,” Johnson said. “Frankly, it’s water under the bridge. I don’t much care at this point. As I understand it, with the village doing its own [plan], they feel it’s appropriate to have their own, I have no problem with that.”

As far as the town’s comprehensive plan, they have no major urgency to update it as of now.

“The next time we update [the plan], I guess we’ll have to take a look at what we do in terms of planning for the town property that’s in the village…” Johnson said. “We’re not currently looking at that issue, so I don’t know exactly how that will turn out.”

The next meeting for the Village of Brockport’s comprehensive plan will be within the month, and will be a closed meeting. Meetings are held monthly, and will continue to be held until the village’s first solo comprehensive plan is completed.