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.