The procedure for developing a master plan is slightly different project by project, but most typically follows the process below:
Identify stakeholders: A Park Master Plan is only useful if the community supports the concepts and outcomes. By identifying stakeholders and including them in the decision making process, the development of a master plan remains a community driven project with public support. The role of a City and a Consultant in this process is to facilitate the process, and provide the stakeholders with information and data regarding the site. The City is also a stakeholder in this process as it relates to maintenance costs, implementation, and ensuring the health, safety, and general welfare of the community is being met. Stakeholders are sometimes identified as sub-committees or as steering committees and develop clear goals for what the master plan is to address.
Inventory: An inventory of the site will provide the stakeholders the proper information for determining long-term decisions with regards to wetlands, steep slopes, and vegetation. Many times the City will seek a contractor to conduct this specific work. As with the Japanese Gulch Park process, the City has contracted with EarthCorps of Seattle to conduct a natural inventory study of the park. Previous inventory work was conducted through the assistance of ESA, Seattle to delineate the wetlands. Due to the fact that the Japanese Gulch area has been utilized as a park for many years, there is a need to understand exactly what the current condition of the habitat is and account for what is currently in the park. Inventories can also include visiting similar sites for project comparison.
Public Outreach: Public outreach is a key element to working with the general public to ensure that the overall community’s desires are being realized throughout the Master Plan. This public outreach is done throughout the entire Master Plan process to identify the unique stories and features of the area. Such public outreach events include open houses, trail tours, surveys, and website development like this site.
Developing Alternatives: The process of developing alternatives will incorporate data from the inventory, public outreach, and site visits, as possible deliverables for the Master Plan. Through communication with the stakeholders and professional input, the Master Plan will typically identify two to three alternatives with the selection of one preferred alternative at the completion of the project. Many times favorite pieces of the different alternatives are merged into the one preferred alternative.
Selecting a Preferred Alternative: Sometimes selecting a preferred alternative can be a challenging task when there is no clear option that meets all the goals identified by the stakeholders. This is when the different alternatives begin to merge together. Another tool to get to a preferred alternative is to use a cost/benefit analysis, look at long-term fiscal constraints, feasibility of development, and SWOT (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats). The preferred alternative is ultimately the option approved by City Council.