The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Council Approves Master Plan


December 2, 2020 | View PDF

If you want to know where you're going, you need a plan. You need to have an idea of where you are, where you want to be and how to get from where you are to where you want to be.

On Nov. 24, the Sidney City Council was presented with an update of the City's Master Plan.

The update was conducted by RDG Planning and Design.

Economic Development Director Melissa Norgard said the last Master Plan update was in 2008.

“The whole premise to doing a Master Plan — we should do an update every 10 years. It has been 12 years,” she said.

The process included three phases of research. Phase One included listening session with building and business owners, city officials and the county visitors committee. According to Norgard's memo to the council, City Manager David Scott and Mayor Roger Gallaway, the takeaways from the meetings included strengthening the connection between downtown and Interstate 80, attracting more retail businesses to downtown, promoting more community activities and events, building a stronger identity and brand for downtown, establishing a place for public gathering, highlighting Sidney's history, having buildings filled with active uses on the first floor and officers/housing on the second floor and refreshing the image of downtown, both in building facades and streetscape.

The memo says a community survey was launched in June; 273 were returned of an estimated 3,000 households.

Phase Two of the project included a three-day event with RDG visiting Sidney. A public open house was held at the Elks Lodge, offering opportunities for people to discuss ideas and react to early concepts.

Phase Three is the publication of the plan. RDG presented the draft concept in September with proposed changes from the survey. They were presented to the steering committee, and made available at a virtual open house and through the project's website for additional comments in the last week of October.

In the city council meeting, vice-mayor Joe Arterburn asked about the low number of responses to the survey. Norgard called the response “poor,” attributing some of the response to the challenging times of 2020.

The memo says “Sidney's downtown is positioned to lead the way for future growth. From a market perspective, Sidney's strongest assets are the specialty businesses that draw visitors from varying distances and drive visitor traffic from Interstate 80.” She said moving forward will need something to the design of a downtown business association.

“It's going to take a lot of effort,” she said.

She added a DBA should be led by a business owner.

One of the challenges found in the research, she said, is fixing the misconception that Sidney stops at the shops north of Cabela's.

Gallaway referenced a paid editorial from a few years ago with a lightbulb and said Sidney's motto needs to be “The Lights Are Sill On.”

The council approved the Master Plan update with a 5-0 vote.


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