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A draft plan created from the Heartland Visioning process was made public Monday, opening with a gloomy assessment of conditions in Shawnee County.
But then, the rest of the 34-page document is devoted to identifying the problems and beginning the process of finding ways to correct them.
In all, about 1,500 people were involved in preparation of the draft plan. Focus groups, community meetings and task force meetings have been underway for more than four months, offering as wide a spectrum of the community as possible a say in the plan.
A “call to action” statement opening the document states, “We want a growing, prosperous, dynamic and trusting community with a rich quality of life.” It quickly moves into a number of general statements about the challenges facing the community.
“We are in a downward spiral. Our population is growing older. Not enough skilled young workers are available to replace those who will be retiring,” it states. “The tax base is shrinking. Those left are paying more, yet services are decreasing. Our quality of life is diminishing.”
Much of the emphasis is on keeping talented young people in Topeka and recruiting more.
“By making our community attractive to young workers, we will grow business and our economy, expand our tax base, lower each individual’s taxes ...,” according to the summary statement.