City considers idea of hiring strategic planning company

(Posted Feb. 26, 2024)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The city of London is experiencing growth in terms of development. Local leaders are taking steps to ensure that it is done in a controlled manner.

At the last city council meeting, council member Shannon Treynor suggested the city look into putting together a strategic plan with professional help.

“There’s been some question as to whether the city should engage in some sort of strategic city planning before a lot of properties currently for sale, especially as pertains to the (Route) 42 corridor, are actually transferred and subject to whatever the design wishes are of whatever the developers have in mind,” she said. “It would be good to have a road map moving forward on how the city should look, instead of leaving it to chance.”

Earlier in the meeting, London resident David Mars made a similar suggestion. Mars is a real estate investor whose primary focus is downtown London but also other parts of the city.

“I’m sure everyone here is aware of the growth that is happening. When I came here and started working, our downtown (business) vacancy was around 50 percent. And if you go try to find a vacant storefront in downtown right now, it’s getting much, much more difficult. Within the next year, I would expect full occupancy in downtown which is really tremendous,” Mars said.

“But as a business owner, I know that growth isn’t always inherently good, and that’s certainly the case with municipalities, too, I’m sure. So, I just encourage council, as we look towards the future and all the growth that’s happening–revitalization going on downtown, building eminent toward the freeway–just to think about what makes London great and makes it unique.”

Mayor Patrick Closser agreed with Treynor and Mars, reporting that the city administration has been looking into the idea of hiring a company to put together a strategic plan and has secured a couple of quotes.

“It’s not cheap, but it is needed,” Closser said. “I don’t think it’s something that we can do on our own right now at the pace we’re moving and where we’re at economically.”

Since the last council meeting, the administration has forwarded the quotes to all council members, along with a copy of the city’s existing comprehensive plan which was last updated in 2008.

Council’s finance committee will consider the information and, if they want to see the city hire a strategic planning company to put together a plan, make recommendations to council. Council would then need to put the job out to bid, appropriate funds to pay for the work, and enter into a contract.

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