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A collective community vision

March 31, 2018 GMT

DEADWOOD — It was nearly the final phase prior to the actual writing of Deadwood’s Comprehensive Plan, and attendance at four community visioning meetings Tuesday and Thursday was abundant and rife with input.

Facilitated by Lysann Zeller Community Development Planner/GIS for Black Hills Council of Local Governments, who will draft the document, attendees weighed in on hopes and dreams for Deadwood over the next two decades.

“This is a year-long process and we’re three-quarters of the way through,” Zeller said. “We’re here to get a lot of community input, hear about what people want. Part of that was stakeholder meetings this fall. Now, what we’re doing is looking forward, doing something called ‘visioning.’ The vision describes what people want. The comprehensive plan is how to get there. What does it look like? Think about what you want Deadwood to look like in 10 years.”

A comprehensive plan, or comp plan, is a collection of information used to guide the future development of a city. Based on community input, a comprehensive plan establishes a collective vision for the future of a community and sets goals and objectives to help achieve that vision.

Tasked first with individual work that included fast-forwarding to 2028 and filling in the headlines on a front-page newspaper prototype touting what Deadwood might look like in a decade, attendees then moved to group work that involved coming up with ways to implement the goals arrived at in the first exercise.

The newspaper headline proclaimed, “2028 Community of the Year: Deadwood, South Dakota.”

Respondents were asked to project themselves into the next decade and give reasons why that honor may be attained, in the way of look, feel, and offerings, as well as community accomplishments.

Individual desires for Deadwood included: “Deadwood ends up being the social focal point of all the outlying developments; restaurants and shopping; a waiting list for families who want to live here; high-end housing; a new housing development that provides affordable housing; the community is robust and historic preservation paves the way for ADA accessibility; businesses open year-round; an extensive trail system, both walking and for ATVs; an expanded transportation system to encompass Lead; build two community squares; Days of ’76 and winter sports keep growing; more retail and larger shopping facilities, especially a grocery store; become a destination for Old West tourism; continued presence of a good elementary school; variety of things for kids to do.”

“I’ve walked my dog here for 10 years, and it’s the best place to walk a dog,” said Historic Preservation Commissioner Lyman Toews.

The focus then turned to group work, as tables filled with stakeholders made a concerted effort in small groups to develop tactics to implement the goals set forth in the prior exercise.

“Now flip the vision from what you want to how to achieve it,” Zeller said.

Groups were given a sheet titled Deadwood Community Goals and asked to place ideas in each of these categories: housing, transportation and parking, development and land use, parks and recreation, tourism, economic development and jobs, natural resources, other.

Desires for Deadwood included: “Rec Center expanded to include more services for kids and seniors; more of a family atmosphere, limit open container and events; development of an outdoor trail system trail through Lead, Deadwood, Whitewood, and Spearfish; combining housing with jobs using job training programs for students to fix affordable housing; focus on appealing to a 12-month customer and year-round businesses, with year round employment; more reasonable and affordable parking; more coordination and transportation — go back and forth to Lead, run trolley to Lynn’s in Lead, so everybody can get places; expand on parking through a subsidized shuttle service that runs downtown from destinations such as the Lodge, Akela Spa, Lead, Central City, etc., tying in all areas; supporting Lead, so their growth can benefit Deadwood and vice versa; town squares and a big dog park; expansion of the river walk.

Zeller said the next step is to write the comprehensive plan and finish the document by the June 1 deadline, set forth by city officials.

“I’ll now be working with your comprehensive plan committee, refining the draft document,” Zeller said, adding that input, information, and recommendations gathered at a Community Planning Assistance for Wildfire (CPAW) meeting April 11 will be added to the previous input gathered.

“It’s extremely helpful for me to know how you want your community to look,” Zeller said.

The document will be presented to the public in open-house-style format when it nears completion.

Deadwood last completed a comprehensive plan in 2001 and state statute requires an update every 10 years, which planning and zoning administrator Bob Nelson, Jr. said prompted the process.

The update is designed to be something Deadwood can base its future decision-making on to better reflect the needs and wants of the community and develop new programs and services and regulations designed to enhance the quality of life for the people that live and work in the community.

“It will give us something to strive for,” Nelson said. “What are we going to evolve into? A community to work in, play in, that somebody wants to open a business in? How do we put that all together?”

The comprehensive plan process includes: an analysis of past, current, and future conditions; public input about the needs and desires of the community; visioning and goal setting, as well as determining policies and strategies for achieving those goals; consideration of Deadwood’s future growth and development over the next one to two decades.

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