Each strategic planning process varies by community, but the most critical component is public input. The foundation of the downtown master plan is based on the opinions of those who know and understand the community best: West Monroe residents. To ensure West Monroe’s Downtown Master Plan resonated with those who reside in the area, Alchemy engaged local stakeholders in a variety of ways.
Steering Committee & Public Input Meetings
To begin the strategic planning process, Alchemy conducted its first 90-minute visioning session with the Steering Committee followed by two public visioning sessions with a diverse group of local residents in September 2019.
The two public visioning sessions were attended by more than 100 residents who provided their input and feedback about the opportunities and challenges facing their community, with emphasis on the downtown and riverfront areas.
The key topics discussed during the visioning sessions and public input meetings included:
- Transportation and Infrastructure
- Retail & Nightlife
- Arts & Culture
- Business Development & Entrepreneurship
- Workforce Development & Education
- Parks and Recreation
Online Survey Assessments
In addition to the visioning sessions and public input meetings, Alchemy published an online survey to collect anonymous feedback from local and regional residents.
The survey used similar questions posed at the public visioning sessions but was also designed to solicit targeted feedback about public infrastructure and streetscape, cultural amenities and social attractions, downtown housing, and riverfront redevelopment.
The survey included both quantitative and qualitative questions. During the planning process, 508 individuals participated in the online survey assessment.
When asked about streetscape design, survey participants responded that preference should be given to:
When asked if enhancing wayfinding/signage is important to downtown,
79% of survey participants responded ‘Yes’
When asked what could be added to downtown that would encourage residents
to visit and shop local more frequently, survey participants responded:
When asked about their consideration of living downtown, 51% of survey participants responded ‘Yes’ or ‘Maybe’
When asked about the kind of housing should be built in downtown West Monroe,
56% of survey participants responded ‘2nd-Story Condos/Apartments’
Alchemy facilitated discussions with the Steering Committee, public officials, downtown businesses, and high school students to learn more about the city, but more importantly, to help clarify and validate the input collected during the visioning sessions, online survey assessment, and other stakeholder outreach.
More than 35 one-on-one interviews were held in person or over the phone during the strategic planning process. These interviews with community leaders, small business owners, restaurateurs, higher education faculty/staff, entrepreneurs, and prospective project partners (and more) were designed to provide Alchemy with diverse perspectives on the opportunities and challenges faced by West Monroe but also helped hone the project priorities and strategies in the downtown master plan.
Since the City of West Monroe lacks strategic planning documents developed in recent years, Alchemy reviewed North Delta Regional Planning and Development District’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) 2015-2020 to ensure West Monroe’s Downtown Master Plan pursued and implemented goals, strategies, and catalytic projects consistent with local and regional partners.
To complement the wayfinding program managed by the Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau, Alchemy also reviewed their design development drawings completed in April 2014 to help inform the branding and marketing strategies recommended for downtown.