The Green Column #32

Community Ideas for Lincoln’s Future

September 8, 2010—Can you imagine an educational nature park, unique to the world, located here in Lincoln? Imagine providing visitors with a billboard free entrance to downtown Lincoln and showcasing citywide art projects every five years. Along with the largest tall-grass prairie preserve and an increase in the number of community gardens, these are some of the visions Lincolnites have for the future of our city.

These ideas are submissions from the Bright Ideas portion of the LPlan 2040 website. The City of Lincoln, Lancaster County and the Lincoln Metropolitan Planning Organization are currently updating the Comprehensive Plan and the Long Range Transportation Plan called LPlan 2040. These plans, along with the updates that are to be adopted at the end of 2011, will shape all aspects of the form and functions of our city thirty years into the future.

For the first time in the history of Comprehensive Plans for the growth and characteristics of the city, the planners and advisors are discussing sustainability. There now is an intent that all the elements of the plan will have sustainable characteristics. There is a consensus that this new plan should result in Lincoln becoming a sustainable city—a city that seeks balance between the quality of the environment, social and physical well-being, the technologies employed, the economics required to create and maintain the city, and the public policies and regulations required for a healthy and participatory civic community.

In order to generate community participation in the making of the plan, the city has created an extensive public process to get input on the City and County’s future visions.

Citizens can visit, to view a variety of tools and input options including: Bright Ideas inputs, and scheduled forums and workshops.

Bright Ideas is the forum for the submittal of ideas from citizens, which are improved and voted upon by their peers. Citizens submit ideas on the five Bright Ideas topics: Beautiful Places, Getting Around, Where We Live, How We Play, and Where We Work. For instance, four suggestions from the first survey of ideas for beautiful future places in Lincoln are:

Beetle Park/Tiger Trail
Create a one-of-a-kind nature park, tourist attraction and educational resource featuring the Salt Creek tiger beetle. By linking the lands designated by The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as critical habitat for the endangered Salt Creek tiger beetle (listed under the Endangered Species Act in October 2005), the wetlands can be used for environmental preservation of, not only, the beetle but the flora, fauna and waterfowl unique to this saline wetland ecosystem.

Citywide Recycling Programs
Create a citywide recycling and composting program. Recycling would be a city service incorporated into the regular curbside pickup of all Lincoln residents. The city would encourage companies to compile materials more efficiently for sorting and re-use. Pooling the recyclables into a city station would create jobs and divert materials from the landfill.

Appleseed Trail
In the spirit of Johnny Appleseed, highlight Nebraska’s trees by planting an array of species along the trail adjoining the new Antelope Valley and Union Plaza. A specially designed Appleseed Trail marker would include: species identification, the tree’s origins and a brief history. Families, children and schools would be encouraged to find and identify the trees as an educational tool and Lincoln Safari-type adventure.

Adopt a Neighborhood/Community Gardens
Create “Adopt a Neighborhood” programs. Volunteers would collect litter and recyclables from roadsides. They would also act as spokespersons communicating concerns about cracked sidewalks, neglected properties and anything else detracting from a neighborhood’s aesthetic appeal.

Expand the number of community gardens in the Community Crops program. Lincoln is in one of the best agro ecological zones in the world. Vacant lots, neighborhood parks, school grounds and churches could be turned into community gardens. Community gardens are a great way for neighbors to get acquainted, a good activity for kids, and would be an incentive for our residents to eat healthier, locally grown foods.

Comprehensive plans, primarily focus on the physical characteristics of a city or county. They contain the plans and policies needed to navigate the City, County and the community’s vision through to the future. Today’s planning points the way to tomorrow’s homes, schools, libraries, parks, shopping centers and streets and infrastructure. It will address how the community will grow, and where and how citizens will live, work and travel in a way that is sustainable for future generations.

The City of Lincoln’s Comprehensive Plan includes plans and policies for the following:

  • Goals for the future
  • Future land use patterns
  • Housing needs
  • Transportation improvements
  • Schools and parks
  • Community facilities
  • Public utilities

The City-County Planning Department is leading the LPlan 2040 update process with the assistance of an advisory committee comprised of the nine members of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission and 11 other citizens. The group will work over the next year to assist in drafting a new Comprehensive Plan that will be released next summer.

In conjunction with the LPlan 2040 process, Lincoln Green by Design would like to contribute and highlight ideas for even more discussion between our members and the community and the City.

The next five green column articles will feature ideas from LGbD members describing their hopes and desires for our future city. We hope our members think big and aim high. Whatever their responses, we’ll share them here, in our green columns for your review and discussions.

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