Purpose of a Master Plan

What is the purpose and scope of a Downtown Master Plan?

The purpose of a Master Plan is to act as a guidance document, providing a broad framework for future public and private improvements in a community.  Master Plans are important because they are proactive and often outline a cooperative process that can lead to successful implementation of many community needs and wishes. These Plans also provide communities with the opportunity to take a comprehensive look at a variety of projects being planned by multiple organizations.  This helps potential partnerships, investment opportunities and coordinated implementation plans to emerge.

A Master Plan is similar to a Capital Improvements Program (CIP).  Much like a CIP, including recommendations in a Master Plan do not automatically commit a community to their implementation or funding.  In fact, Master Plans do not typically include the level of detail necessary for a recommendation to become a construction project or budget item.  Instead, it is the purpose of a master plan to act as a placeholder for a series of concepts that a community can pursue.  By organizing a Master Plan’s recommendations according to their implementation priority, those responsible for implementation can begin working to outline the scope, cost and time frame for individual projects.  Because of the long-term, flexible nature of Master Plans, it is not uncommon for the scope or cost of a project to change significantly or for some recommendations to never be implemented.  However, including these recommendations in a plan inspires creative thinking for problem solving and a more comprehensive look a community’s needs and desires.

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