Peabody residents can help determine city's direction


Comprehensive Plan Project Coordinator, Kansas State University student

When the residents of Peabody open their utility bills this month, they may notice something extra. Folded up with the normal bill will be a two-page, three-part questionnaire. By filling it out, residents can help shape Peabody's future.

The questionnaires will let the city know about residents' opinions, issues, and concerns. This input will be used to help shape Peabody's Comprehensive Plan. Comprehensive plans are documents that allow cities to set goals for the next 10 or 20 years and create policies to reach them. So, in a way, by filling out the questionnaire, Peabody residents have the opportunity to cast a ballot for what type of future they would like to have.

Peabody has enlisted a group of graduate students in Kansas State University's Regional and Community Planning program to help create their comprehensive plan. These students have spent the past two years studying community planning. They have been working on Peabody's comprehensive plan for approximately one month, with help from Peabody City Clerk Jeff Benbrook, Main Street Association Executive Director Kristen Hooper, and the Peabody City Council.

The students are gathering data to prepare background information needed to forecast Peabody's future might, and they need input from Peabody residents. Public input is crucial to making good comprehensive plans and letting cities know what the public wants for its future.

In order to find out what issues are important to Peabody residents, the students held a focus group meeting Jan. 30, 2008.

Sixteen Peabody residents, representing diverse groups and interests, were asked a series of questions about the city. Topics covered included the economy, housing, parks, the downtown, Peabody's strengths, and its challenges. Participants were given the opportunity to vote on the concerns and issues they raised as a group to help pinpoint Peabody's most important concerns.

This information was used to create the questionnaire that was distributed to all residential utility customers. All of the questionnaire responses will be recorded, and the information will be used to highlight what important issues are important to include in the comprehensive plan.

For those citizens interested in this process, the student group is giving a presentation at a special session in March. This meeting is open to the public. Topics covered will include Peabody's focus group results, its population trends, and details on an upcoming housing survey. Information and documents, including the focus group results and the questionnaire, are also available on the city's website at