ANY COMMUNITY HAS A WIDE VARIETY OP ISSUES THAT DEMAND ATTENTION. THE STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS DISTILLS THESE MANY ISSUES DOWN TO AN AGENDA THAT THE COMMUNITY CAN REALISTICALLY ADDRESS. The initial part of the planning process identified strategic issue areas, using community surveys and working groups to evaluate issues, examine areas of improvement, and define directions for future attention. The initial issue definition process included a program of Denison 2020 planning committee meetings and interviews, supplemented by three community-wide planning workshops. Participants rated 48 community systems and features and identified strategic issues for more concentrated attention. The process identified remarkable areas of agreement and consensus - concerns about economic opportunity, the ability to attract young people, the integration of the city's new and old populations, the availability of housing, the quality of community offered to future generations. In thinking about the future of Denison, it is also important to consider the measures of community. There are five fundamental questions to consider in evaluating a community and its future:
DOES THE COMMUNITY SUSTAIN LIFE?
Are its basic systems sound and capable of protecting public health and safety? Most participants believe that the city's basic systems are sound. By any measure, Denison provides its residents with a safe, life-sustaining environment. Yet, issues of funding and human resources can threaten the continued ability of the town to provide quality basic services.
IS THE COMMUNITY JUST? Does the community treat all citizens fairly and equally?
The integration of new, primarily Latino populations into formerly homogeneous Midwestern communities presents considerable challenges. Community representatives report that Latinos frequently put down roots in Denison and are in the process of buying houses and starting businesses. The continued pursuit of justice and equal acceptance and opportunity for all can harness a powerful force for enhancing the city's future.
DOES THE COMMUNITY PROVIDE OPPORTUNITY?
Does the community give its citizens the ability to grow economically, socially, culturally, and spiritually? Economic opportunity is one of the community's primary concerns. Available, affordable housing is also necessary to give new households the opportunity to settle in the city.
DOES THE COMMUNITY PROVIDE DELIGHT FOR ITS CITIZENS? Does the city offer a quality of life and range of experiences that make community life a pleasure? Are citizens glad that they live in the town?
Many features in the community offer unusual cultural and recreational resources.
Yet, Denison 2020 participants believe that additional recreation opportunities are needed and that the Uptown district and Highway 30 corridor fall short of their potential. In addition, quality features of the community are not linked to each other, dissipating the energy and activity that add magic to a community.
DOES THE COMMUNITY EXPORT ITS VALUE AND CONTRIBUTE TO THE RICHNESS OF THE LARGER SOCIETY?
Does the community identify and communicate its special qualities and value? Denison has defined the Donna Reed heritage as its distinctive brand. The city has begun to export an image that can be further expanded to its benefit.
Six general focus areas emerge as the organizing elements of a comprehensive approach to Denison's future:
- ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, including job creation and development, business development,
Human resources and recruitment, educational programs, and economic incentives.
- GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT, including land use and growth directions, open space, transportation, and community facility frameworks, and housing development.
- COMMERCIAL DISTRICTS AND ACTIVITY CENTERS, including Uptown, major corridors, and the Fairgrounds
- COMMUNITY SERVICES, including public safety services, education, health services, human resources, and government finance.
- QUALITY OF LIFE, including recreational facilities and programs, public space, community events, image and marketing, and the experience of living in Denison.
- COMMUNITY ISSUES, including cultural diversity and integration of new populations, communications, and leadership.