The city of Idaho Falls is working to build the future of the city. But it’s not doing it alone. The city launched an effort called “Imagine IF” with a tagline: “A plan to move Idaho Falls forward together.” The “together” part is happening through conversations with citizens of the city.
City planners have created a website, published a survey, held focus groups and went from neighborhood to neighborhood to try to get input from as many people as possible.
“People love where they live,” said Brad Cramer, the community development services director for the city of Idaho Falls.
Cramer said when people start to ask themselves questions about how their kids will be able to afford to live in such a good city in the future, they start to generate great ideas to focus on for the community. The city has gathered those ideas from its survey and the community meetings. Cramer said they divided the city into five geographic areas and held meetings in each of those areas. Those meetings were in person, online and over Facebook Live simultaneously. The final meeting was on March 31.
“At first we were really nervous about that,” Cramer said. “But what we found is that we had far more participation than we would have otherwise because people have become comfortable enough with technology that they’re not afraid to join.”
During the meetings, Cramer said they talked to people in person and virtually. They talked about core issues and asked people questions like, “What do you love about your neighborhood, why did you choose to live there, what would you improve about the neighborhood?” They also focused on three topics: healthy communities, housing and transportation and connectivity. Through this focus and the questions, they heard some great ideas from people about what they would love to see in their neighborhoods, including the idea that people wanted places in their neighborhoods designed to connect with their neighbors.
“Which may sound odd because you’re there, your homes are close together, but that idea of having a place to go build community face to face was kind of a new theme that we don’t often see,” Cramer said. “So to hear that to come out as a theme in Idaho Falls was incredibly encouraging.”
The survey is now closed, and the city is sifting through the information, which will be combined with the information gathered during the neighborhood meetings and the focus groups. From the ideas, the city will begin to create themes, initiatives, projects, strategies and ultimately a new comprehensive plan for the city. The projects will be both city-wide and neighborhood specific. Before plans are finalized, Cramer said the city will host another round of neighborhood meetings. Cramer hopes to have a plan approved by the end of the year.
For more information about Imagine IF and to track the progress you can go to the Imagine IF website.