In 2001 the City of Kent, Ohio decided to update their Comprehensive Plan. It was the desire of the elected officials in cooperation with the City Manager to create a plan that incorporated sustainable development concepts. The task of completing this plan was assigned to the City of Kent's Community Development Office. The non-profit Kent Environmental Council was also involved.
Known as the City of Kent Bicentennial Plan in honor of Ohio's Bicentennial, the City of Kent Bicentennial, and Kent State University Centennial, the process of gathering public input was begun in the Fall of 2002. Centered around eight defined neighborhoods, public input was solicited using volunteer facilitators from a number of Kent organizations. Round One gathered residents' ideas and thoughts regarding their image of the Kent of tomorrow. Round Two provided an opportunity to prioritize these ideas and thoughts, and make connections between their social, economic, and environmental aspects.
Throughout the first two rounds, three special planning districts were also evaluated. Facilitated by the Kent State University Urban Design Center, residents were asked to share their ideas regarding: 1. The area between KSU and the downtown, 2. A 55-acre open space site, and 3. The western-most entry into the city. Round Three was totally devoted to residents reviewing the potential designs created as a result of citizen input in the previous three rounds. Round Four provided an opportunity for residents to review and comment on the first draft of the final comprehensive plan. The Kent Community Development Office was particularly interested in residents' thoughts regarding the strategies selected to reach the community vision.
All community sessions with residents were held in community facilities located in each of the eight neighborhoods. Resident comments were facilitated by citizens who volunteered their time. We used asset-based methods that focused on solutions looking out to future generations. Connections were made between the environmental, social, and economic elements of the community.