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Funding Opportunity Drives Revitalization Efforts

Situated just a short drive from Omaha down Interstate 29, Sidney has long been popular with residents and commuters from neighboring cities. However, Sidney has not been immune to the downward population trends hitting many rural communities. When town leaders received a $25,000 award to put toward community planning efforts, they reached out to the Snyder & Associates team to develop a plan that could potentially put the town in contention for $1.75 million in additional funding from a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) provided by the Iowa Economic Development Agency (IEDA). This funding would be used to implement the strategies included in the plan and renew the town’s focus on creating a vibrant community and attracting full-time residents.

Addressing Key Concerns of Residents

Poster board from public meeting with numerous images of infrastructure ideas and amenities.

Public meeting displays allow residents to mark the items they feel are most needed in the community.

The plan created by our team addressed critical issues in the community, such as sidewalk conditions, safe crossings, pavement quality, and stormwater management, all aspects that aim to transform Sidney into a more vibrant, livable community. The neighborhood plan also provides programming and implementation steps for an area central to the core of Sidney. This area is designated as a Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) neighborhood that needs improved housing options and other improvements that appeal to existing residents wanting to remain in the neighborhood.

At the heart of the plan was a 94-acre area between Walnut, West, Cass, and Fletcher Streets, along with the currently vacant 909 Illinois Street site. As the former home to the United Methodist Church, the Illinois Street lot was identified as the ideal, centrally located space for a city park, one of the key highlights of the revitalization plan. This idea was immediately met with pushback from some residents who pointed out this location was promised to the fire department in 2015 for future expansion. Other residents underscored the urgent need for a city park. The debate surrounding this site’s purpose and potential dual use for a park and fire station highlighted the delicate balance in community planning.

Employing active listening and ongoing conversations, our team made adjustments that proposed three viable options for the park’s layout and features. These iterations incorporated desired park amenities based on public input while ensuring the potential for future expansion or construction of the fire department.

Collaborative Planning for Community Growth

Map of the Sidney community with highlighted areas that are the focus of infrastructure improvements.

Map from the Sidney Master Plan that shows the targeted improvement areas.

The collaborative efforts of the City Council, the residents of Sidney, and our team resulted in the approval of the neighborhood plan that stands as a testament to thoughtful community engagement and vision. This endorsed plan is poised to become an integral part of the grant application to the IEDA, with the potential to secure additional funding for implementation as early as Spring 2024.

By emphasizing the importance of revitalizing their community and attracting full-time residents, Sidney is poised to make meaningful changes that will impact residents for many generations.