The consulting firm that helped usher in the era of night baseball at Chicago's Wrigley Field soon may lead local officials and residents into a new era of land planning and development.
Douglas County and Lawrence officials have selected the firm of Trkla, Pettigrew, Allen & Payne to guide the community in crafting Horizon 2020, the long-term plan for growth and change in Douglas County.
Horizon 2020 will replace Plan '95 and the Douglas County Planning Guide as the official manual for managing growth, development and conservation in Douglas County until the year 2020.
The plan will address concerns such as housing, transportation, neighborhood quality, environmental features, historic buildings, economic trends, and the relationship between the community and Kansas University.
Public participation is crucial to the success of the plan, say city and county officials. The firm was chosen for the project for its proven track record in dealing with the public.
Based in Chicago, the consultants have worked on land planning documents similar to Horizon 2020 in several communities, including Lenexa and Elmhurst, Ill.
FOUR consultants will direct the project in Lawrence throughout the entire process, according to Philip Hanegraaf, a land-use planning expert for Trkla.
Hanegraaf will join senior executives John Pettigrew and Thomas Payne as the core consultants, providing technical advice, data analysis and overall guidance.
"We really think this is going to be an exciting project," said Hanegraaf. "Lawrence and Douglas County is already a dynamic community that is going to become more dynamic."
IN ONE OF its more high-profile projects in 1986, the firm used community participation to strike an agreement between the Chicago Cubs organization and neighbors of Wrigley Field.
When the Cubs threatened to leave Chicago unless they could play night games at the stadium, the firm was hired to consult with neighborhood and community groups to identify their concerns about night games.
The process led to an agreement permitting night baseball at Wrigley Field for the first time.
The consultants figure to continue their emphasis on public input in working with Douglas County residents.
"IT SEEMS like (the consultants) almost went overboard with steps to include every element of the public that you could identity," said Lawrence City Commissioner Bob Schumm, who served on the committee that selected the Horizon 2020 consultants.
"I'm quite sure that no group or individual will be left behind," he said.
The consultants and the Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Department currently are negotiating a contract for consulting services.
Once the information gathering process begins, TPAP consultants would encourage residents to participate in the planning process and envision the ideal Douglas County.
They then would integrate these ideas into the Horizon 2020 comprehensive plan.
The community outreach strategy includes interviewing local neighborhood associations, service groups, and key community leaders to get their suggestions for the plan.
For those too shy to speak out in public, consultants would distribute surveys dealing with community issues in public common areas, like banks and supermarkets.
TOWN MEETINGS would be held for the general public at various stages in the process to clarify and shape the plan.
Douglas County and Lawrence city officials would also have an active hand in shaping the Horizon 2020 plan.
The general community and officials from the city and county will review and discuss the final draft of Horizon 2020. The city and county commissions will make the final approval of the plans contents.
The process is expected to take 30 to 36 months, according the proposals submitted to the Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Department.
The information-gathering process for Horizon 2020 is scheduled to begin in the spring. It will not come cheap.
THE CONSULTANTS have requested between $100,000 to $115,000 for their role in the three-year project, which includes providing technical expertise in preparing the plan.
The city and county already have saved $66,000 for consultation fees and plan to set aside another $35,000 or so in their budgets next year, said Price Banks, director of the planning department.
The city foots most of the bill, said Banks. The county is responsible for a sixth of the cost.
The entire Horizon 2020 project will cost about $200,000, Banks said, including the time city staff devotes to the document and the cost of publishing booklets with the final plan.