The Nebraska Chapter of the American Planning Association recently awarded the “Daniel Burnham Award for Comprehensive Plan” to the Ralston Comprehensive Plan Update. This comprehensive plan update was completed through the partnership of JEO and the City of Ralston, NE. The Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan is a prestigious award that recognizes comprehensive plans that advance the science and art of planning.
In 2013, the City of Ralston found itself in a predicament: it wanted to grow, but it couldn’t grow outward because it is landlocked by the greater Omaha metropolitan area. Recognizing the need to maximize opportunities within its existing boundaries, the city chose to update its comprehensive plan.
Structured in four sections—profile, envision, achieve, and implement—the Ralston Comprehensive Plan Update focuses on mixed-use redevelopment that will increase residential density and create economic development opportunities. The plan also identifies four areas ripe for new, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use redevelopment.
The community identified “The Hinge,” or the area connecting downtown to the new Ralston Arena, as a priority project. The redevelopment vision of “The Hinge” includes a new lake front park, a new market street on existing industrial property, infill development in downtown, and new apartments and retail.
Other development initiatives in the plan take advantage of under-utilized areas on the edges of the city and create opportunities for gateway features, which includes parks and plazas that are framed by new mixed-use development.
The final comprehensive plan gives Ralston an urban edge by heightening the sense of arrival and creating a clear distinction between itself and the surrounding municipalities. Designed to inspire and engage the community, the plan was made available as an interactive “smart plan” at www.hdrpi.com/ralstonsmartplan.
Since the plan’s adoption on April 1, 2014, the city has actively worked toward the plan’s community-identified vision: several private citizens have stepped forward to help implement both short- and long-term objectives; development of a new hotel near the arena has begun; and the city started developing a strategy to implement “The Hinge” vision with private donations.
Receiving the Daniel Burnham Award for Comprehensive Plan is a significant accomplishment, of which both JEO and the City of Ralston should be proud. However, the real accomplishment is the Ralston community’s continued excitement and eagerness to implement the plan’s vision. JEO is excited to see what the Ralston community achieves!