Sparks city officials are looking for opinions—lots of opinions—on how the city should evolve over the next 15 years, and they say they will actively hunt down those opinions.
It’s all part of a year-long process to update the city’s comprehensive or master plan that’s designed to guide the growth and development of the city through the year 2030. It includes elements such as land-use patterns, population, housing, roads and parks.
City Planner Armando Ornelas Jr. described the plan as a “policy framework for guiding the decisions the city makes about growth.”
“We’re looking at potentially a considerable amount of growth over the next several years,” he said. “It (the plan) would help, amongst other things, guide where and how the community grows.”
Ornelas said the plan also establishes how the city prioritizes the use of relatively scarce resources for infrastructure, capital facilities and services.
Rather than relying on only traditional methods, such as workshops, to solicit feedback on how Sparks should grow and develop, the city is reaching out to residents at gathering spots and events, such as this past weekend’s Hometowne Christmas Parade, and through social media, a website, bus tours and other methods. The city calls it a “boots-on-the-ground” approach and is using “Ignite Sparks” as a theme for the campaign.
Adam Mayberry, community relations manager for the city, said the city realized that it wasn’t going to get enough feedback at workshops. “That’s why we need a crew that can penetrate the community,” he said.
He said the city will make an effort to hear from a diverse cross-section of the city, including residents on the lower end of the socio-economic ladder.
The city has hired RAD Strategies, a public-relations company, to complete the outreach campaign.
The first phase of the city’s process to create the plan is getting residents to share their vision for Sparks. In that phase, residents are being asked to answer three open-ended inquiries:
“My biggest concern for Sparks in the year 2030 is…”
“My wish to make Sparks even better by 2030 is…”
“I love Sparks because….”
Ronell Dotson, president of RAD Strategies, said the goal is to collect 600 responses to the three-part survey by the end of the month. Residents can fill out the survey online at IgniteSparksNV.com. Residents will be asked to provide an address, but officials said that will only be used to analyze responses by each of the city’s five geographic wards.
Dotson said the responses will be analyzed for common themes and then be used to develop a more detailed questionnaire. Her company plans to obtain 1,800 responses to that questionnaire by April.
The comprehensive plan, which must be approved by the City Council, is scheduled to be completed in the fall.