Watertown Vision Planning Process
Watertown, New York
Professor Cheryl Doble and Maren King, 2003
A Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) is a comprehensive land and water use plan to guide local decision-making and protect the environmental integrity of the community’s waterfront resource while maximizing its potential to contribute to the city’s economic vitality and quality of life. The City of Watertown chose to initiate its LWRP by involving the community in a participatory process of vision planning. The process was designed and facilitated by SUNY ESF Planning and Landscape Architecture students under the guidance of faculty and the Center for Community Design Research. The process was also guided by an Outreach Advisory Committee, created by the City Planning Department.
A series of community workshops were designed to facilitate public participation in the articulation of a vision for the city and its waterfront. The first workshop, entitled Imagine, explored community values, identified community concerns, and brainstormed opportunities along the river corridor. Based on the information and understanding gained through the workshop activities, the students drafted a community vision statement and preliminary goals. The students also identified a set of questions that required further investigation and developed activities to explore them. During the second workshop, Explore, participants worked to refine the draft vision, review design proposals, and discussed programs that the city might pursue to accomplish their vision. At the third workshop, Celebrate, students concluded their involvement in the project with a presentation at City Hall. At this presentation, the students summarized the information gathered during the workshops, reviewed the vision statement and goals, and shared a conceptual design plan that captured many of the community’s ideas and proposals and illustrated the potential of their vision.
After the students’ involvement ended, Prof. Cheryl Doble and Maren King continued work on the project. Based on the process and results of the studio, Prof. Doble completed The Black River Vision Plan: City of Watertown Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. This document serves as the basis for the full LWRP being prepared by planning and design consultants from the private sector.