Lindsay Smart, a planner with the Cleveland Department of Community Development, said the two-hour fact-finding gathering — which begins at 6 p.m. — will give attendees the chance to voice their opinions are the city’s transportation needs, and especially their views on improvements the municipality needs to target for the future.
The sky’s the limit.
“Anything you can think of putting in a Long-Range Transportation Plan within the next 25 years is what we want to talk about,” Smart said.
She pointed to the importance of public input because local residents are the most impacted — both now and in the future.
“The citizens of Cleveland and Bradley County are the true experts on transportation problems in our community so we need their expertise,” Smart said. That’s the whole purpose of the public forum — to get public opinions.
Anything pertaining to public transportation and factors that influence its future will be on the table for debate. Potential topics could include population, employment, existing bike paths, sidewalks, bus service, freight movement, growth expectations and others.
The forum will feature three components.
n First, municipal staff will provide a “snap shot” of existing conditions inside the city and current transportation projects taking place in and around the city.
n Second, the community’s “vision” will be discussed. In this segment, “ ... our citizen experts (attendees) will work with the meeting facilitators to review and further develop a description of the vision for the community,” Smart explained. “The facilitators are very interested in obtaining guidance from our citizens to help shape the vision statement.”
n Third, “future projects” will be focused and this will include interactive participation by attendees.
“Once the vision statement has been created, the citizen experts will be given the opportunity to break into small groups, sit around a large table with a large map, and identify areas in, on and around the transportation system that need immediate attention,” Smart explained. “The citizen experts will be given labels such as ‘bike path,’ ‘sidewalk,’ ‘traffic’ or ‘intersection’ and the experts will be able to put the labels on different areas of the map to identify those areas where they want bicycle facilities and sidewalks, or where there is too much traffic congestion, or where intersections are ‘flowing’ well.”
Smart said public involvement in the Oct. 18 forum is critical.
“The public’s input will help us identify an approach for preserving the existing rural character of the area while still promoting growth, and enhancing and maintaining transportation choices in the community,” she cited. “All members of the community are welcome and encouraged to attend.”
Questions about the community forum, the Long-Range Transportation Plan or related projects may be directed to Smart at the city’s Community Development Office at 479-1913.