Mason City Community Plan for Sustainability

As part of their capstone project, second-year graduate students from the University of Iowa’s School of Urban & Regional Planning developed a sustainability plan for the City of Mason City.

Mason City’s interest in producing a sustainability plan dates to 2012, at which time the City defined the mission of its Environmental Sustainability Advisory Commission (ESAC) as educating and encouraging City efforts toward sustainability. ESAC identified five goals to guide sustainability efforts: 1) equitable access to all modes of transportation; 2) expansion of community engagement; 3) encouragement of a diversified economy; 4) building a sustainable workforce; and 5) access to green space. While these goals were intended to serve as the framework for a community-wide sustainability plan, both ESAC and City staff lacked the time, budget, and resources to complete the plan at that time.

Students on this project identified the community’s interests in and priorities for sustainability by soliciting public input and involving the community in the development of goals and strategies for the plan. City staff anticipate that the “grass roots” and community-engaged process of creating this plan was a benefit in itself, and impacted the engagement and commitment of citizens across the economic and social strata of the community.

This project resulted in a citywide sustainability plan that will be used to guide decision makers and provide recommendations to implement and improve community sustainability efforts. Based on guidance from community partners, students developed a concise but broad-reaching plan intended to both educate and excite Mason City citizens about sustainability.

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