City of Bartlesville leaders have entered a new stage of the months-long process of reassessing its mission, values and organizational practices.
The City Strategic Plan, a project undertaken by city staff and consultant Arizona-based Mejorando Group, has culminated in a preliminary draft of the final document, created by the city project team using public input from more than 800 Bartlesville residents.
The city team, which includes Bartlesville Mayor Dale Copeland, City Manager Mike Bailey and five city department directors, will continue to hone the document in a process expected to be complete by June 22.
In developing the plan, the team has carefully considered the extensive public input collected and analyzed by Mejorando Group, Bailey said in a statement. Public input identified the strengths and challenges facing the community — with challenges including the need for more entertainment options, which can be addressed through economic development.
Some of the needs commonly expressed in public input, however, are not typically ones in the city’s purview — making them difficult to directly address in the Strategic Plan being created.
“While the City has not traditionally been involved in homelessness or child care, the group explored ways for the City to advocate for and possibly collaborate on solutions to these and other challenges in our community,” Bailey said in a statement about the process.
During the March 29 in-person public input session held as part of the project, one question was posed more than once to Mejorando Group Consultant Patrick Ibarra — haven’t we done this before?
Ibarra’s firm is being paid $65,000 for its work on the comprehensive strategic plan. It is not the first time an outside firm has been hired to assist the City of Bartlesville in assessing local challenges and opportunities — and while some of the same data and public input was collected, those projects involved different focuses.
Comprehensive strategic plans were undertaken by the city every few years between 1999 and 2013, but each was geared towards a different aspect of the community — with none undertaking a deep look at the city’s internal structure and goals, as is the goal of the current plan .
Additionally, not all of them involved hiring an outside consultant.
Previous iterations of this process have focused on various topics, including affordable housing, parks and recreation and redevelopment of areas of Bartlesville, including downtown, western Bartlesville and the Highway 75 corridor.
Among these projects was a 2004 strategic plan, carried out for the city by Ambler Architects, to create a vision for redeveloping downtown Bartlesville.
The process involved a public survey, a public community planning meeting, two days of focus groups about local issues and a travel marketing study. In the final report, Ambler Architects suggested several measures to attract business, and consumers, downtown.
Several goals outlined in the 2004 report came to fruition within four years. A 2009 update lists measures undertaken by the city to follow the 2004 plan, including the formation of the Bartlesville Redevelopment Trust Authority and the creation of downtown tax increment financing districts for both residential and retail.
Based on recommendations from the 2004 report, the city also invested $1.3 million in downton infrastructure, including adding parking spots and turn lanes to Frank Phillips Boulevard and other streets to make it easier to maneuver.
The last such project was a 2013 plan regarding local quality of life and retail offerings — an update to a 2006 plan. The planning process, carried out by contractor Angelou Economics, involved hosting public focus groups, roundtable discussions, one-on-one interviews, an online survey and analyzing data.
In the final report, Angelou Economics identified Bartlesville’s “most urgent challenge” as its lack of appeal to young professionals and those younger than 45, “due to its limited entertainment, nightlife, and recreational opportunities.” The company described this as something that would limit “all aspects of the community’s growth.”
The company produced a thorough report on the community’s retail and restaurant mixes and suggested several specific measures for the city — including prioritizing retail and restaurants as a market industry.
Since the 2013 study, the Bartlesville Development Authority has focused just that, leading to the redevelopment of Eastland Shopping Center, the Shoppes at Turkey Creek and the Silver Lake Village Shopping Center.
Reports from previous Bartlesville strategic plans can be found on the City website.