The City of Trenton has launched Trenton250.org (version 2.0), a start-of-the-art website designed to inform residents, business leaders, stakeholders, and prospective developers about how it plans to become a “Premier Economic and Cultural Center built on Arts, Industry and Education”.
The site was built by P’unk Ave in cooperation with Group Melvin Design, members of a consultant team hired to develop the Trenton250 Master Plan. The Trenton250 Master Plan will guide Trenton through its 250th anniversary in 2042. It is the City’s first truly community-driven comprehensive plan, addressing everything from circulation to education.
The plan’s online format and structure also serves as an implementation tool for the City: it clearly shows how individual actions and initiatives support larger goals and guiding principles. Indexing pages allow city departments to quickly find initiatives and actions that have been assigned to them. District Plan pages allow council people to see the recommendations made for their ward.
Critically, the online format allowed the City of Trenton to publish a plan that clearly showed how resident’s wanted the City to work. On Trenton250, visitors can explore how large community-developed “Guiding Principles” are translated into concreate “Actions”. The plan also identifies “lead departments” along with “Patterning Organizations” which helps demonstrate how everyone in the City could work collaboratively to achieve the Vision.
Most critically, the website format allowed the planners to link recommendations together, which made it easier to show how one recommendation could support multiple goals. This allowed the planning team to think non-linearly and to create a network of recommendations that would work together to achieve the City’s vision.
Trenton had a long history of one-off planning efforts. This resulted in an incoherent and inconsistent planning landscape which was difficult for decision makers to navigate. Worse still, many plans were near impossible to locate despite being referenced in other documents.
In response, the Division of Planning instituted a “one plan” policy: The Master Plan is now the only official plan for the City. When a new plans is written, whether City or community lead, it must go through a formal “endorsement process”. Applicants must review the Master Plan and recommend specific amendments based on their planning efforts. Once endorsed, the plan is added to the Trenton250 document and the Master Plan is updated with the requested changes, creating a “living plan” framework. The Trenton250.org website serves as a storehouse where all those recommendations can be quickly and easily accessed by everyone in the City from residents to city council members.