COEUR d'ALENE - It has been nearly a year since the CDA 2030 project was started to gauge the community's vision for what the greater Coeur d'Alene area should look like in the year 2030, and now they are in the home stretch.
The CDA 2030 organizers have spent most of the past year gathering both scientific and not-so-scientific input from thousands of Kootenai County residents and analyzing that data to determine the key areas where residents would like to see community leaders focus their attention into the future.
Organizers recently reached out to the community looking for volunteers to help develop an implementation plan based on that data, and found there is much more interest than they suspected.
"I think there is a lot of positive energy toward bringing this to a head and producing an implementation plan," said Dr. Charles Buck, a University of Idaho professor who is leading the data collection effort locally. "I am optimistic. We sent out a call to create an action planning committee and it was a very good response.
"We were worried that would only get about 10 to 12 people, and we got 35 to 40 people who responded."
It's a good problem to have, Buck said. Now the organizers are looking at a way to keep everyone involved in the implementation effort, without having to manage such a large committee.
"We are kind of trying to sort out whether we cap the committee, or do we work on developing sort of a large committee that has working groups in it, which is probably the way we are going to go," Buck said. "We want to make sure that we cover those six topic areas that we have identified."
The data collection and vision stages of the process developed six key areas of focus that include: community and identity, education and learning, environment and recreation, growth and development, health and safety, and jobs and economy.
"We would like to have the large committee so that each focus area can collaborate where there is crossover on the issues, but small enough working groups that can still focus on each of the six focus areas," said CDA 2030 Project Manager Nicole Kahler.
They are leaning toward smaller committees that act more like working groups that collaborate with the other working groups in a larger committee setting.
"It will be a challenge for the management side to coordinate this so it can be effective," Buck said. "But we have a lot of folks who are very actively engaged who can help out with that."
They are working on a management plan that outlines the duties of the key organizers to make sure things run smoothly. It's a new process that is still defining itself.
"I think you come to a point, in any city, where you have to leave the nest and proceed along the lines of what your community is going to benefit from and what they really need," Buck said, adding he has been talking with his consultant Steven Ames, of NXT Consulting, who describes this stage as a natural evolution of the process.
"He says, 'OK now it's your deal and you have to make it work within the context of this structure,'" Buck said. "This is a time when his direct involvement begins to scale back and we are going to pick up more and try to figure out how to make it work."
They have the ideas, but they need the structure to implement the ideas that bubbled up in the vision process.
Kahler said the meetings are just getting started to organize the implementation committee which will eventually develop a strategy for getting things done.
"So we have our overarching vision, and then for each focus area we have strategies, or how we will achieve that vision, for the strategies we have actions, how do we achieve that strategy," Kahler said. "There is a kind of hierarchy to what we will present."
The group will identify lead partners, potential partners and supporting partners, as well as a time to achieve implementation.
As far as naming projects, both Buck and Kahler are hesitant to say which ones are obvious and which ones are not.
But there are some projects that have already begun to build momentum before the completion of the project.
"Really that is kind of what we were hoping for," Kahler said. "If people want use this data and go ahead and start working on it because they already have the resources and enthusiasm to get going, we all think that is great."
Buck said this planning committee will look at those efforts and figure out how they can support it.
Where it goes from there is anyone's guess, Buck said.
"If we told you that, we'd have to kill you," Buck joked.
While it is conceivable that the CDA 2030 organization could remain in place through 2030, they want to stay open to how things play out.
"We are planning to hand this off to various stakeholders and enable them to be successful into the future," Buck said. "We want to make sure at this end stage that we aren't saying 'this is the way it has to go, and this is the organization that's going to do it.'
"We want to remain open to enabling existing organizations to make this successful."