A Plan for Our Future
The City of Portsmouth, in collaboration with the Scioto Foundation, announces a new Master Plan that has been prepared for the City by MKSK Consultants of Columbus after months of planning with city officials, representatives of the Foundation, and a citizen-volunteer Steering Committee. The Portsmouth Master Plan – Elevate Portsmouth – presents a vision for the future of the city with a range of short-term and long-term strategies for implementation, the consultants explained. The City of Portsmouth and the Scioto Foundation shared the cost of the plan development equally with each providing $37,500.
“Elevate Portsmouth is a guide and supporting framework for the people in Portsmouth including city residents, business owners, and civic leaders, as they foster downtown revitalization and consider future land use. The plan also provides strategic direction for Portsmouth to continue to attract new residents, tourists, and development to the city,” MKSK participants said.
Elevate Portsmouth was developed in an eight-month process in close collaboration with the City, the Scioto Foundation, and a wide range of community leaders and stakeholders. The plan did not start from scratch, but was created within the visioning work the community had completed in recent years, according to the consultants. Recent planning processes include the 2019 Rethinking Downtown Portsmouth Summit and the 2015 Community Revitalization Plan.
“This plan is for the community. The vision, recommendations, and action steps are a snapshot of what people are excited about in the city today and what we, as a community and experienced planning team, documented for a plan to move forward,” said MKSK. “The plan is flexible. The concepts are prompts for people and groups to take the lead and run with. Each illustration is a starting point to inspire people and groups to refine and customize for a just-right fit in Portsmouth. Some ideas are new and some have been around for a long time. Each is simmering, ready for the innovative leaders, collaborators, and investors in Portsmouth to expand and create.”
The Steering Committee, numbering 20 community members, along with City Manager Sam Sutherland and Community Development Director Tracy Shearer and Scioto Foundation representatives Kim Cutlip and Patty Tennant, guided the planning process in a series of four meetings and review period of the draft plan. This group of civic leaders, residents and the business community in Portsmouth included representatives of primary employers such as Shawnee State University and the Southern Ohio Medical Center, local developers and small business owners, City Council, Portsmouth City Schools, in addition to arts and culture, nonprofit and volunteer organization leaders.
“On behalf of the City of Portsmouth, I would like to personally thank each and every person who helped create this plan,” said Sutherland. “The detailed process of interviews, stakeholder meetings, and hard work of the Steering Committee and City Staff that got us to this point demonstrated a true dedication to our community. Through forward thinking and vision, Portsmouth now has a plan to assist us in elevating our town to a brighter future.”
“The Scioto Foundation was thrilled to assist the City of Portsmouth with the creation of their master plan,” said Cutlip. “We look forward to seeing the accomplishment of key components of the plan.” The first meeting was held in the Scioto Foundation meeting room. Subsequent meetings were conducted online with Zoom, using interactive polling and screen sharing to engage the members in active discussion about the plan progress.
Stakeholders identified in the planning process were selected from those engaged in the 2019 Rethinking Downtown Portsmouth Summit and included civic leaders, residents, and the business community in Portsmouth. Early in the process the planning team conducted a series of interviews with stakeholders to define the challenges and opportunities in the city. Interviews, arranged by topic, included: Development, Land Use and Downtown Revitalization Infrastructure and Transportation Neighborhoods, Nonprofits and the Faith Community Arts, Culture, History, and Tourism Parks, Recreation, Open Space, Conservation and Riverfront and Business, Employment and Economic Development.
After hearing from stakeholders and the Steering Committee and considering visions for revitalization in previous plans and the Rethinking Downtown Portsmouth Summit, the Elevate Portsmouth Vision was created. It is based upon the concept of a Lifestyle City. The Pillars of a Lifestyle City, a theme which will be used to shape the brand of Portsmouth, define what that means for Portsmouth and serve as guiding principles for achieving the vision. A new logo identifies those guiding principles as Diverse Local Businesses, Great Public Spaces, Bold Character and History, Ongoing Community Celebration, Strong Neighborhoods and Broad Recreation Options.
An existing conditions analysis, engagement conversions and focus areas designation led to a five-strategy plan framework for Elevate Portsmouth and recommendations on carrying it out. The five strategies include identifying small investments that will make big impacts, facilitating big projects that will catalyze lasting change, expanding and enhancing successful nodes of activity, supporting neighborhoods, and leveraging existing assets. Accompanying each strategy are examples of existing projects with extensive details and new concepts, along with sketches and designs.
The Master Plan’s final section focuses on a future land grant plan and an implementation matrix which presents a summary of recommendations and action steps, direction for collaboration, a timeframe, and high-level cost guidance. More details from that part of the plan will be revealed at a later time.