What is the purpose of the Comprehensive Plan?
The purpose of the plan is to help Wilmette evolve sustainably and successfully. It does so by providing insights and recommendations about places, programs, and policies for the years to come. Communities are dynamic, living places with a lot of moving parts and people. Furthermore, time, technology, and trends in the way we live, work, play and engage are in constant motion. The plan must guide the Village through such changes. While technologies and economies shift, the plan must remain relevant. This requires that it be built on these ‘pieces of the whole’… connecting with the people of Wilmette on their visions, hopes, and priorities… diving into a depth of data, demographics, and analysis… then bringing it all together to plan for the future, effectively and strategically. Wilmette’s Comprehensive Plan will focus on themes that together shape “quality of life” … which is why hearing from the community, as well as understanding data and trends, is so important.
Who is leading this effort?
The ‘Ready Set Wilmette Team’ came together specifically to respond to the planning themes and subareas outlined by the Village in its Request For Proposals. The plan is being conducted by a consultant team led by Teska Associates, Inc. of Evanston, in partnership with the Village of Wilmette. The team includes expertise in commercial markets (Goodman Williams Group), housing (Applied Real Estate Analysis), diversity & inclusiveness (C-Change), sustainability (EOR Water Ecology Community), and transportation (Fish Transportation Group). The process is heavily steeped in public engagement and local outreach to ensure actions and priorities speak to the needs and desires of the Wilmette community.
How will future priorities be determined?
The short answer, through (1) extensive community engagement to understand goals, (2) analysis of data and findings, and (3) experience and expertise of the consultant team. Integrating the findings of these three pillars becomes the foundation on which future priorities are determined. Local insight, intel, and input from the community, boards, commissions, organizations, and others in Wilmette informs the big picture, guiding principles, and top priorities for the Comprehensive Plan.
These priorities are then reviewed through our Team’s lens of findings, best practices, and expertise. From community character, economic development, and active transportation… to housing affordability, diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, and the environment — actions and priorities will be recommended based on the three pillars noted above, then the team will work with Village leaders and staff to create a plan that reflects and builds on community values and goals.
How can we ensure recommendations of the plan are actionable?
For recommendations to be truly actionable and realistic requires what we like to call the “4-P’s”… passion, proof, partnerships, and (oft times) a piggybank.
- Passion comes via the people. Projects and recommendations that residents are passionate about and support are much more likely to get done. This is why community engagement and ongoing refinement of top priorities is central to the planning process.
- Proof comes via analysis and expertise. What does the data tell us? Are development considerations reflective of future trends? Are actions and priorities rooted in proof they can be achieved? Proof provides confidence that the plan is rooted in reality.
- Partnerships are just that, i.e. strength in numbers, i.e. we all get by with a little help from our friends. The stronger the community partnerships are, the more the plan can aspire to achieve.
- And then there’s the Piggybank. Funds are necessary – no which way about it. The priorities and recommended actions of the comprehensive plan become important topics during budgeting. Discussion focuses on resources required from a financial perspective, as well as timing – is this action or project short-term, mid-range, long-term, or ongoing.
A thoughtful plan becomes a useful tool in securing grant funds that may be available. As part of the implementation section, the plan will provide an actionable matrix that details timing, resources, and partnerships to assist with review, goal setting, and decision making by the Village Board and Commissions. Bottomline — Wilmette’s Comprehensive Plan is the community’s plan and all these factors are essential pieces to framing the reality of what can, should, and will be achieved.
Can you tell me more about community engagement?
Sure thing! The planning process is built around a series of “engagement seasons” that runs the full course of the project. There will be five (5) community-wide events called “Wilmette Talks” and five (5) community-wide polls. Both the events and polls will generate input, discussion, and priorities related to the seasonal planning themes. In addition to the theme-specific events and polls, ongoing engagement will also take place via the tools hosted on this website (comment map, ideas wall, and project updates), community pop-ups, student sessions, focus groups, and stakeholder interviews. Monthly Project Memos will also be provided to the Village Board and Commissions.
To better understand who is involved and participating in the plan, the series of Wilmette Talks and polls will ask optional questions such as participant age, resident tenure, and connection to the Village – i.e. resident, business owner, employee, active in a local organization, etc. These metrics help the project team not only understand who is involved, but also who we are not hearing from. This information is then used to recalibrate and adjust marketing, outreach, and engagement to help ensure those voices are heard.