Community Vitality Report
Start Date: August 2016
Estimated Completion Date: August 2017
As part of our 2013 Strategic Planning, the CRA posed the question “How do we get out of this business?”, which challenged the agency to do its work so well that we would no longer be needed. We realigned internal efficiencies and talent to support more complex projects, we formed new and strengthen existing partnerships to leverage resources and build capacity, and we reaffirmed our commitment to engage in initiatives that address urban blight and contribute to community quality of life. The recent success of projects like Depot Park, Bo Diddley Plaza, and the A. Quinn Jones Museum & Cultural Center can in part be attributed to this vision.
To some, an increase in taxable property value would be a sign of success for these projects. However, we believe that at best this is an incomplete metric of success. A more inclusive indicator of success- what we are calling ‘community vitality’—takes into consideration the short- and long-term economic, environmental, social, policy, and health outcomes of redevelopment at both the individual and community level. Simply, the success of a CRA cannot be measured by property values alone. From this perspective, the CRA recently embarked on an effort to better understand the impacts of our work through community vitality.
After a solid look back and fielding questions that planners and re-developers pose about what makes a city vibrant and successful, we defined our survey tool. The tool was designed to be short, concise and user-friendly. We included ranked questions and a heat map where participants could identify where areas we’re thriving, and where they weren’t thriving. We took our questions to a cross-section of the community at events such as the Fifth Avenue Arts Festival, the A. Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center grand opening, Relay for Life at Howard Bishop Middle School and Active Streets Gainesville at Depot Park. We also posted our survey on EngageGNV and Facebook.
The survey reponses helped us identify the questions that needed deeper answers. Questions like: “How important is infrastructure” (very) and “Can redevelopment affect the health of a community” (definitely). First we approached 22 community stakeholders representing each of the four CRA districts. The approximate half-hour interviews provided us with thoughtful insight about what’s working in our community. They clarified for us the importance of infrastructure and transformational projects like Depot Park. Participants by and large were enthusiastic and creative – offering ideas and suggestions in addition to their opinions.Following stakeholder interviews, we reached out to our elected officials. Many of the themes revealed in the stakeholder interviews were reiterated by our policy makers.
Citizen Advisory Board Meetings
Throughout the process, we provided updates to each district’s advisory boards, who helped us synthesize the findings in real-time and raised additional questions to be explored.
In Fall 2017, we compiled all the feedback we recieved into the Community Vitality Report and presented the findings to the CRA Board and each advisory board. We also mailed a copy of the summary report to all residents in the four CRA districts. A copy of the summary report can be accessed here: 2017 Community Vitality Summary Report. The full version of the report includes exerpts from the stakeholder interviews, a more in-depth look a the community survey results, and additional details on the findings and themes that emerged. The full version can be accessed here: 2017 Community Vitality Full Report.
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