Comprehensive plan: Oak Harbor urges public to complete survey

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oak Harbor officials, together with the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, have started the process of developing a new Comprehensive Community Plan. 
        The current plan is several decades old.
        The purpose of the Plan is to create a shared vision for the community to preserve and build on its heritage while giving direction for desirable growth and development and the implementation of important priorities. The new Plan will help community officials make decisions about neighborhoods, economic development, downtown and riverfront revitalization, parks and recreation, infrastructure, and community facilities.
        According to Mayor Quinton Babcock, the planning process will culminate into a Plan of Action that orchestrates better ways for the village to be more resilient, resourceful, and interconnected to its assets like the Portage River.
        The entire process will take about one year and will be ready for adoption next March.
        As part of the process, residents are being asked to participate in a brief survey. A link to this survey can found on the home page of Oak Harbor’s website at or by clicking  The survey asks residents, business owners and other community stakeholders questions relative to priorities, growth, revitalization, and livelihood of the community. 
        Reveille, a firm that specializes in comprehensive community development solutions, will assist a steering committee comprised of community representatives in developing the Plan.
        “The survey is important,” said Glenn T. Grisdale, of Reveille. “A community means different things to a lot of different people. But a community can only be a community when it involves ideas, thoughts and opinions of more than just one person. We do live in a democracy and it requires you to reinvigorate it early and often. It’s not a spectator sport. Whenever we do a Community Plan, we take a multi-pronged approach to getting public feedback. We know people are really busy. People can only be as valuable with their opinions as their knowledge base. So throughout the whole process, we will ask for the public’s thoughts and ideas at different stages of the process. The first phase is discovery. We’re coming in as outsiders and we’re looking at everything right now. We look at how the village looks, ticks, its assets, and how they connect to one another. “
        The survey has 14 questions, including:
•Rate your "Quality of Life" in Oak Harbor.
•If you could make one improvement in the community, what would it be?
•What land uses would you like to see expanded in the community?
•What additional businesses would you like to see in the community?
•Are there any locations in need of improved access or pedestrian connectivity linkages? If so, where?
•What is your biggest concern about the future of Oak Harbor?
•Do you feel historical and architecturally-significant properties help to promote the downtown's character and marketability?
        Over the next year, community residents, students and stakeholders will be able to participate in many ways, such as round-table discussions, mapping and visioning exercises, and poll-based data collection.
Student survey
        In addition to the community survey, Benton Carrol Salem high school students will be able to complete their own survey.  The entire process will take roughly one year and the Comprehensive Plan will be ready for adoption by next spring.   
        “We want to know in a separate survey how high school students feel about the village.  That’s very valuable. As parents in the community, we raise good children, and they leave and become good parents someplace else. We hope their ideas will get instilled in the community and that they will want to mature here because they have been heard.  They will be able to complete the survey in five minutes.”
        Among the 14 questions in the survey are:
•How would you rate the "Quality of Life" in  the Oak Harbor community?
•Do you plan on moving away from the community after high school?
•How would you rate Oak Harbor when compared to other communities you lived in or visited?
•How likely is it that you’ll return to live in Oak Harbor (or the area) as an adult sometime in your life?
•How would you rate the level and quality of youth and teen activities in Oak Harbor?
•Are there any places in Oak Harbor or along the Portage River that you wish were improved or better connected with sidewalks, bike paths, trails, or kayak/canoe launches?
•If you were in charge of Oak Harbor, what one improvement would you make?
        Printed copies of the survey can also be obtained at village hall and the library but completion of the online survey is preferred.  


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