The Sparks City Council recently approved the 2017-2022 Strategic Plan at its Sept. 26 meeting. Focusing on the four strategic goals including: public safety, infrastructure/technology, economic development, and citizen engagement/empowerment, the working four-page document serves as a simple yet direct roadmap for the city to be able to enforce the vision and mission set by the Sparks mayor and city council. It also contained several referrals to the much longer Comprehensive Plan encompassing feedback from the community.
The City of Sparks vision statement is to “be the city of choice for residents, businesses and visitors.” Its Mission supports the vision by establishing financial stability through a safe environment, economic development, events, and opportunities for citizen involvement.
Working with the Ignite Sparks initiative, the city gathered input from over 2500 residents about how to prepare for oncoming growth and economic vitality. Sparks City Councilwoman Charlene Bybee says that she likes the fact that the city sought community feedback to help develop the Sparks Strategic Plan and that is what gave the council the vision for the future of the city.
“We’re at such a crossroads with the expected growth; it presents a lot of challenges with infrastructure,” says Bybee. She added that she was fortunate to be elected into her position when Sparks has so much potential, but the city is still bouncing back from the 2008 recession. “I came in at a good time when we were on an up-rise,” Bybee says.
“Sparks is not a boom and bust; we’re working on changing the community to match the economic pace,” Bybee adds. With the industries coming in to determine the future of Sparks- like the high tech companies building a base in the area- Bybee says that it’s important for the city to look at that in its planning.
“People want a vibrant downtown. I love the fact that we have a lot of millennials and that one of those millennials will be on the City Council soon,” says Bybee. At the Oct. 4 Candidate Night, most of the candidates for all open positions spoke about public safety and economic growth being a big concern and their plans for addressing that. The Strategic Plan lists one of its first objectives as continuing to improve the city’s public safety response, prevention, and support services.
Bybee added that the main complaints from residents are about speeding and weeds, but one of the main priorities in the plan is to focus on the housing market.
“The market is getting tighter but luckily a lot of apartments are being added,” she says. Bybee also stated that one of the main goals in the plan is to make sure they are keeping up with the housing and the roads with infill and renovations instead of spreading out.
“Roofs bring retail,” she says, noting that once the city can tackle the housing challenge then a downtown scene can come in and Sparks can build up its arts, culture, parks and recreation.
According to the Ignite Sparks Draft Comprehensive Plan released in August 2016, Sparks has a population of 93,581 and is projected to grow up to seven percent by 2034. “Government leaders, city administrators and planning department staff prefer to anticipate and manage growth rather than simply react,” the plan states.
In the Strategic Plan’s objectives about infrastructure and technology, the city will proceed to guide its future growth through implementation of the Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan contains compliance requirements in infrastructure with other government agencies and Nevada State Statutes, amendments needed from previous plans, and multiple phases of community input.
“We remain optimistic but cautious and are moving forward in listening to what people want to see,” says Bybee.