David Brooks, graduate of the 2016 Economic Development Academy (EDA), is making great progress on a plan to remake the city of Lebanon’s downtown. Drawing upon the tools and techniques that he learned through EDA, Brooks, who is Lebanon's director of planning and zoning, has given residents multiple opportunities to provide input on the proposed redevelopment and help shape the plan.
“To me, the most important component of this project is public participation," he says. "This project is not simply about 'the city' simply informing 'the community' of what will be done. Rather, this project will be most successful if the community is consulted and involved about what it feels ought to be done and is empowered to help find or create solutions to improve downtown Lebanon.”
The ultimate goal is to encourage compatible development in the downtown, while also making it more pedestrian friendly. The hope is that the redevelopment will lead to a more vibrant downtown and support downtown businesses.
Brooks' final project for the Economic Development Academy focused on engaging diverse constituents in helping to shape the plan.
As Brooks noted in his final project presentation, “It is hard to build consensus on economic development projects, particularly if they entail use of public resources. But if you don’t work to engage the public along and find areas of common ground, then any project or plan will face strong headwinds. We are making excellent progress, but this plan will take years to implement.”
Andre Garron, who coordinates the Economic Development Academy, notes that the City of Lebanon’s Downtown Visioning Study and Tunnel project will also include an in-depth assessment of the current condition and immediate structural needs of the tunnel beneath the pedestrian mall and parking area. If appropriate, the consultant will prepare specific designs and construction timetables for restoring the structural integrity of the tunnel to permit the reconnection of vehicular circulation and parking above the tunnel.
“Last year’s class was fantastic and already graduates like David are putting what they learned into practice,” Garron says.