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Improving Downtown Fort Dodge’s Streetscape with Local Community Input

The Fort Dodge Streetscape Master Plan is a project by Main Street Fort Dodge—a volunteer organization aiming to revitalize and market Historic Downtown Fort Dodge—the City of Fort Dodge to develop a streetscape redesign plan for Downtown Fort Dodge, Iowa.

As the survey states: “Streetscapes are often a visitor’s first impression of a community. The street is an important component of our community’s public realm and defines our identity as well as our desired social and economic activity and […] affect[s] how people utilize the street and sidewalks to access businesses and […] events.” One of the main goals of the survey is to gather community input to identify the priorities and preferred design concepts of locals, in order to promote revitalization of the Downtown area.

What’s the story? Street Improvements From Look & Feel to Function & Utility

The project was brought to life because the downtown has seen a declining numbers of visitors, businesses, and residents. An improved streetscape can strongly impact the vibrancy of a place, helping to draw in both people and businesses. By enhancing the physical and visual assets, the community is transforming Downtown Fort Dodge. A MetroQuest Survey was created to explore design alternatives and collect input on preferences from local residents, visitors and business owners.

While the results have not yet been published: Well over 700 people provided feedback, most of them residents or business owners within the city boundaries.

A mock-up of potential plans Snyder & Associates is creating to make the Fort Dodge streetscape an active and lively space.

Congratulations to the team at Fort Dodge! We’re excited to see the results of their exceptional community engagement survey. Read on for more on the survey results!

How Snyder & Associates Utilized Metro Quest to Guide the Redesign of a Public Street Plan

To gather community input on the proposed streetscape design alternatives, Snyder & Associates created a MetroQuest Survey to understand what was most important to the local community.

After a welcome screen that introduces the project and the driving forces behind it, the survey starts with a priority ranking screen where participants were asked to rank their top five topics to guide strategies for future improvements. The topics are (in random order): Transportation Choice, Vibrancy and Events, Connectivity, Parking Access, Safety, Aesthetic Improvements, Sense of Place and Resiliency.

The highest ranked priority was Safety, where participants agreed with the statement that “It is important that our roads are safe for those walking, biking or driving. Safety concerns can be addressed in a variety of ways, such as intersection improvements, lighting and security cameras.” This type of screen is useful for planners as it allows them to tailor designs to match widely agreed on priorities for the area.

The second interactive screen is an image rating screen where participants are asked to weigh in on ideas for re-envisioning downtown. In order to better understand how individuals feel about various design precedents, they are asked to rate a series of images reflecting different streetscape improvements. Five images or renderings are presented for each of the following concepts: Bicycle Access, Landscape, Public Space, Sense of Place and Sidewalk.

On the third interactive screen, ideas are presented on a tradeoff screen where participants were asked to choose between different advantages and disadvantages of scenarios across five topics, namely Parking Access, Look and Feel (“stand out or blend in?”), Right-of-Way (“parking places or people spaces?”), Landscaping, and Vertical or Horizontal Enhancements. Overall, participants leaned towards bicycles, pedestrians, and green spaces over cars and parking spaces.

5 Tips from Fort Dodge Streetscape Master Plan: Using MetroQuest for Land Use Planning

Snyder & Associates made the most of MetroQuest by utilizing great visuals and staying on point with their questions. Below are five takeaways from their survey:

  1. On the welcome screen they utilized the welcome screen pop up to show a site location map, which can be incredibly helpful to inform participants of the project site.

  2. Both the welcome screen and the wrap up screen present an opportunity to add a project or partner logo. This is a great opportunity for brand recognition. The logos on the wrap up screen are also linked to the respective websites.

  3. The image rating screen is a fantastic tool allowing participants to vote on a series of ideas or concepts as presented by images or renderings, one at a time. It is particularly useful for a land use or urban design project.

  4. The wrap up screen allows for a few final questions, including demographic questions so that you can better understand participants’ feedback and ensure inclusion and diversity. Questions such as whether the participant lives, works, or owns a business in Fort Dodge are critical to understand who the survey team heard from, and an age question gives further insight into demographics. Including a general comment or final thoughts box is a great way to ensure participants have a chance to express anything that may not have been captured elsewhere.

  5. Include a link to a project website or webpage on a partner site so that participants have an opportunity to stay involved and follow the project’s progress.

Congratulations to Snyder & Associates, the City of Fort Dodge, and Main Street Fort Dodge for a very visually appealing and overall successful MetroQuest survey!

REPRINTED FROM SNYDER AND ASSOCIATES WEBSITE This article has been reprinted with permission from MetroQuest and is written by Norma Hogan, Customer Experience Lead at MetroQuest.

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