The American Planning Association, Iowa Chapter, granted the 2018 Daniel Burnham Award for best comprehensive plan in Iowa to the Keokuk Comprehensive Plan.
In April 2016, the City of Keokuk decided that it needed to update its Comprehensive Plan. The last Comprehensive Plan was done in 1999. A ‘Vision Plan’ was developed in 2007 which is not an official City-approved document, and had been largely ineffective at guiding future decisions. The City partnered with the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission (SEIRPC) to create its ‘first 21st Century Comprehensive Plan.
“A well thought out and detailed comprehensive plan is essential for good development,” stated Keokuk City Administrator Cole O’Donnell. “The completed plan will allow Keokuk to look forward and better meet the needs and wants of our citizens.”
The plan is an exemplary document for similar sized Midwestern towns that were early ‘boom-bust’ cities and were left in major disinvestment with low quality of life and have been struggling to recover since. Many such towns were negatively impacted by broader economic trends and are experiencing sizeable population loss, decreasing average household size, an aging population trend. The plan sets to make desired outcomes a reality, influence public to focus on their community values, create a positive public perception of the community so they can proudly call it their home.
Since adoption, the Comprehensive Plan has proven to be helpful when seeking funding for projects. The City has applied for several grants, including State Recreational Trails (IDOT), Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (US DOT), and FY18 Site-Specific Brownfields Assessment Grant (US EPA) for an industrial site. The City was recently awarded the FY18 Brownfields Assessment Grant.
Congratulations to Keokuk for the award and guidance, and to SEIRPC staff for developing a plan that "advances the science and art of planning".