We seek to grow our population and economic sustainability, enhance our image and quality of place, and improve connectivity and mobility.
Values of the Community
For over two years, 2017-2019, the Blueprint planning process generated terrific community turnout at public meetings and open houses, and hundreds of responses to surveys and requests for feedback. One significant outcome has been the discovery of several recurring themes, otherwise known as the community’s values – upon which the City Blueprint is built.
There is widespread appreciation for the greenbelts, trails, river, creeks, and scenic vistas that are part of the everyday experience of living in Oak Ridge. Their protection, enhancement, and expansion are important to our community.
Science, Technology, and Innovation
Oak Ridge grew from a fascinating history of worldwide influence that is still the underpinning of our economy and community identity. We were “Born to Innovate.” At its inception, Oak Ridge was a place where incredibly smart, creative young people came from around the globe to do amazing work that changed the world. Interestingly, that remains the case yet today.
Oak Ridge schools have presented consistent success in the community, from the time they were established in 1943 to serve the families of the Manhattan Project. In 2017, the district earned the distinction of being the first to achieve district-wide AdvanceED STEM Certification, meaning each school and all grades K-12 are focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs. During the war, the federal government also established Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) to develop a peacetime purpose for nuclear science, which today draws experts from universities around the world to find solutions in science, health, education, and security.
Being Uniquely Oak Ridge
Oak Ridge was an extraordinary place when it was the core element of the Manhattan Project – it is an extraordinary place today. The community clearly expressed the desire to make Oak Ridge a more distinct and identifiable place, and to build upon its unique history, landscape, the arts, and contribution to the world of science.
It is also apparent that the people that call Oak Ridge home are remarkable, for the exceptional community spirit, broad-mindedness, and sense of responsibility. The diversity of people that was produced by the Manhattan Project has shaped a culture of tolerance and altruism. One does not have to be born here to be an Oak Ridger, a concept that redefines “community.”
Over-Arching Goals for Oak Ridge
Community input during the Blueprint process reinforces the following aims, or over-arching goals, for the future of the city. Underscored by strong community values, subarea studies to understand needs and opportunities, and previous planning documents, these goals present the main ideas of the City Blueprint.
The Municipal Planning Commission will review City Blueprint at least once a year. As progress occurs and the impacts of various plans and projects can be measured, the main goals can be updated and the action strategies adjusted.
Grow our Population & Economic Sustainability
In order to support the level of public services desired by citizens while keeping taxes from rising, the economic base and tax base must become deeper and wider. Part of this is population growth – for example, keeping employees of the federal facilities interested in being residents rather than commuters to surrounding communities.
Oak Ridge’s economy is dramatically impacted by federal policy and budget decisions. Diversification of business and industry that includes small and local enterprises is needed to provide more economic stability, choices of goods and services, and support a growing population.
Enhance our Image & Quality of Place
Presenting an identifiable character of Oak Ridge, particularly in a vibrant city center, coupled with better overall physical definition of a city embedded in a huge federal forest, will help fuel growth of population and the economy.
We need to draw in high-quality amenities, entertainment, and cultural activities that residents and visitors can enjoy, as well as update public facilities and infrastructure to make Oak Ridge a more attractive place to live. Creating a place in the city center that is clearly “Downtown” Oak Ridge will help attract businesses, residents, and activities together and generate community vibrancy. Improving the outward image of our city, its entrances, districts, and landmarks, will solidify a unique Oak Ridge identity.
Improve Connectivity and Mobility
It was stated, loud and clear at almost every public meeting, that Oak Ridgers want more and better sidewalks, additional trails, and safer roads for pedestrians and bicyclists. Reducing the size of large, suburban-style blocks, especially in our city center will increase street frontage for small, local businesses to attempt startups or expansions, and promote walkable shopping areas. Better connections between neighborhoods, schools, and businesses, and easier / safer access for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists will improve quality of life and increase development potential.
These visionary goals are connected to each other. Population growth directly affects the local business community. What happens in the local economy affects the potential growth of the city. Growth is affected by the quality and variety of housing on the market for potential buyers. Historic preservation could bolster tourism and motivate investment in older neighborhoods. The notion of comprehensiveness in urban planning is to maintain a set of policies and decisions over time that reinforce each other and work together toward the achievement of the goals of the city.
Six plan elements, or categories, organize this comprehensive information in a way that helps leaders form policies and advance in a strategic manner.
- Economic Vitality and Sustainable Growth
- Housing and Healthy Neighborhoods
- Recreation and Natural Assets
- Land Use and Infrastructure
- Transportation and Mobility
- Livability and Community Vibrancy