About 25 people gathered in Papillion on Oct. 9 to decide what Bellevue should look like in 2050.
Some of them were Bellevue residents, who cheerfully ruled on what should or should not happen not just in Bellevue but also in Papillion, Gretna, La Vista, Springfield and even Omaha.
They were the hardy few who responded to a public call from the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency to gather at Papillion-La Vista South High School at 5:30 p.m. to give planners direction on what the MAPA coverage area should look like in 2050.
MAPA is a regional planning agency that serves an eight-county region: Washington, Douglas, Sarpy, Saunders and Cass counties in Nebraska, and Harrison, Pottawattamie and Mills counties in Iowa.
For about 30 minutes, the attendees heard MAPA officials explain the importance of coordinated planning across the eight-county region. For the following hour and a half, the 25 would-be planners pored over a laminated map of the region, placing stickers denoting areas where housing should be built, heavy industry located, town centers established, commercial centers, main streets installed and so on.
Certain areas were designated as green space and protected, others targeted for road extensions or light rail.
Participants were divided into five groups, each with their own map and set of stickers, and each with their own ideas.
The maps, with the stickers attached, will be added to a growing pile of such maps gathered from similar meetings held in different parts of the MAPA region. Their information will be digitized, and conclusions and trends drawn that are intended to guide planners in the decades ahead.
The Papillion session showed significant agreement among participants about the most important aspects of Sarpy County’s future.
A strong economy was ranked by 36 percent as the most important contributor to quality of life as well as strong neighborhoods (also 36 percent) and a low cost of living (23 percent).
Concepts that received strong support were building destination places within walking distance (73 percent), boosting the local economy through infrastructure development (65 percent), and the development of mixed housing (61 percent).
The concept of building a circular “beltway” around the greater Omaha metropolitan area was “strongly” opposed by 32 percent and “strongly” supported by 27 percent, one of the rare instances of firm disagreement that emerged from the session.
Mark Stursma, planning director for the City of Papillion, showed up, as did Assistant Bellevue City Administrator Larry Burks. Assigned to different teams, they found significant agreement, each placing a “Main Street” sticker along Mission Avenue, heavy industry stickers on land south of Offutt Air Force Base and lots of residential housing stickers on land south of Papillion.
John Fregonese, president of Fregonese Associates of Portland, Ore., led the session.
He said the planning session was one of a series of public workshops that will continue through November, to be followed by further steps that will develop an overall vision and, finally, a strategy to implement it.
The next local session will be Nov. 4 at the Muller Administrative Services Building at Bellevue University. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the program scheduled 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Food and drinks will be provided.