NY: Albany's 2030 Plan Out

July 14--ALBANY -- Residents are getting their first look at the first draft of the comprehensive plan that will serve as the playbook for the city's growth and evolution over the next two decades.

The roughly 230-page draft of the Albany2030 plan -- available online at www.albany2030.org and in all city libraries -- relies on citizen input to detail a vision for New York's capital as a walkable, safe, green place with a vibrant urban core, good schools and diverse transit system.

Unlike the city's handful of neighborhood plans, which detail specific block-by-block ambitions for redevelopment, the comprehensive plan is meant to be a broader view that stitches the neighborhood plans together while devising broader strategies -- like rethinking the zoning code to guide future land-use decisions -- to achieve goals that benefit residents from Arbor Hill to Eagle Hill.

"This shows that everybody -- everybody -- really wants the same thing," said Doug Melnick, the city's director of planning.

In surveys during public forums held throughout the city, residents ranked neighborhood investment, education, public safety and jobs among their highest priorities.

Accordingly, the plan distills scores of recommended strategies and actions, into 28 short, medium and long-term projects leveraged to accomplish as many of the goals as possible.

The list of short-term projects, intended to start within two years of the plans adoption by the Common Council, include devoloping a comprehensive urban agricultural plan, pushing for the redevelopment of the Harriman State Office Campus as mixed-use community with access to mass transit, improving government efficiency through data sharing and hiring a marketing consultant to improve the city's image.

Mid-term projects, intended to launch between two and five years out, include strengthening small business development, creating a comprehensive plan to reconnect the city to its waterfront and embarking on a wholesale update of the city's zoning code -- a step that Melnick acknowledged would almost certainly have to rely on outside grant funding.

Long-term goals include developing inter-modal transit centers to and a building code for urban rehabilitation.

Melnick said Albany's plan is different because rather than focusing on housing, transit or jobs in a vacuum it focuses on how the various big-picture goals, and the strategies to achieve them, interconnect -- known as the systems approach.

More than a thousand members of the public were involved in crafting the plan.

"Especially those people who participated at the beginning, I think they're going to find this attractive because they're going to see their hard work reflected in the plan," said Councilman Daniel Herring, chairman of the Albany2030 Board and the council's planning and land-use committee "Everyone does have an opinion in their own mind where the city should be in 2030."

The planning department still wants to hear from residents before it submits a final draft for council approval this fall. The plan will then be forwarded to the council's planning committee before the full body holds at least one public hearing and votes on it.

Copyright 2011 - Times Union, Albany, N.Y.