Community-Based Process

City leaders, technical and advisory committees, stakeholders, and the public have given decisive direction:

Decisions must be based on community values and must continue to enhance the quality of life of the community.

One of the basic tenets of PlanOlathe is the concept that by working together we can develop new ideas to forge a distinct future. Great communities don’t just happen: they require focus, commitment, and energy. Based on a core set of common values, PlanOlathe proposes achievable solutions that improve our quality of life. There are many reasons to do so - the savings in infrastructure dollars, the revitalization of our downtown and older neighborhoods, expanded job opportunities, and enhancements in our environment. A better future is possible through a common vision, one that engenders support from enough
people that progress is feasible. 

Since September 2008, the PlanOlathe team has listened to the concerns and visions of roughly 1,500 individuals. Key public involvement activities have included:

Old Settlers’ Day (September 2008) kicked off PlanOlathe.  Pioneers, parade watchers, and passersby shared their ideas on Olathe legacy and hopes for the future. (October 2008) was launched to share information, communicate events and the process, and provide a central repository for information. This interactive website provides the ability for the public to comment on key phases of the project and participate in virtual exercise and workshops.

Stakeholder Interviews (November 2008) where more than 120 community stakeholders shared their interests, areas of concern, and questions about the future of Olathe in a series of small group or one-on-one meetings. These stakeholder interviews were a great method in which to examine issues regarding a particular niche in the community, be it for a specific neighborhood or group. Stakeholders represented a wide variety of community interests, including neighborhood groups, business owners, architects, real estate professionals, social service providers, the faith community, nonprofit organizations, community groups, schools, utility districts, and the City of Olathe and Johnson County departments.

City-wide Visioning Workshops (January 2009) were held to define the vision for Olathe. The public was notified of this meeting via, cable TV, local newsletters, flyers, direct emails, and announcements at council meeting. At four public meetings throughout the City, attendees were asked to review numerous display boards that describe the potential vision and character, as well opportunities to achieve the vision.

Mobile Public Visioning Workshops (September 2008 –June 2009) took PlanOlathe to the streets, with in-person presentations to civic and social organizations, neighborhood groups, community groups, homeowner associations school PTOs, and other groups. Since September 2008, staff has also presented PlanOlathe at local development, transportation, and housing forums.

“Think Big” Public Workshops (May 2009): Residents were asked to create and judge those big ideas that can help improve Olathe’s future. The workshops included hands-on small group exercises where four alternative Community Scenarios were described to represent distinctively different approaches to future growth and development. Each of the scenarios was depicted with maps and accompanying photographs. Armed with markers and pens, citizens were asked to critique the scenarios, offering their words and images directly on trace paper overlays.

Public Review of the Draft Plan (March 2010): where the question was asked, “Did we get it right?” Live, televised, and internet-broadcast presentations of the draft plan provided an overview of PlanOlathe draft recommendations. Question and answer sessions and public open houses provided an opportunity
for the public to explore and learn about the plan, ask questions, and provide critiques and suggestions.

Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee and Core Working Group (monthly meetings): Throughout it all, City leadership – most notably the Mayor, City Council, and Planning Commission – have taken an active role in directing PlanOlathe.  A Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee (CPAC) served as the
steering committee, advising City staff and the consultant team at monthly milestones. A Core Working Group (CWG) representing each City department also conferred with the project team monthly.

As described in the diagram to the left, the project process contained five phases conducted over an eighteen-month period:

Phase 1: Data Collection. Phase 1 of PlanOlathe began with interviews of key groups and organizations from the Olathe community. These interviews allowed people to express their hopes and concerns about their hometown. Phase 1 also evaluated the quality of life of the community against other communities.

Phase 2: Formulate Community Vision. Phase 2 focused on community visioning and goal setting based on collected information.  The community generated opportunities to achieve the vision, and citizen input culminated in a Vision Document (see Chapter 3) that graphically illustrated a desired future.

Phase 3: Develop Key Principles and Plan Alternatives. A number of “big choices” were presented to accomplish the community desires. Ideas included choices for downtown, new commercial areas, employment centers, greenways, transit and future neighborhoods.

Phase 4: Evaluate Plan Alternatives and Develop Preferred Plan.  Based on technical data and public input, these ‘big choices’ were tested to see which will continue to elevate the City quality of life while being economically reasonable and fiscally sound.

Phase 5: Draft Plan. This phase involved drafting a Plan that represented the will of the Community. Part of this Plan included an action plan to ensure the vision is realized.