The quality of a community as a good place to live is embodied by the availability of amenities such as parks, walkable neighborhoods, access to essential services and retail shops, restaurants, and social activities, all of which may be addressed under Priority #2. Healthy, thriving communities must also provide a foundation built upon having a range of quality housing options at a variety of price points, as well as adequate built and civic infrastructure to support both existing and future development.
Strategy: Provide a Range of Quality Housing Opportunities
While each NewAllen Alliance community has its own unique demographics and housing needs, they all have a need to rehabilitate existing, aging housing stock. NewAllen Alliance communities are also interested in promoting the development of senior housing options that are affordable, accessible, easy to maintain, and safe. US Census population projections show that Allen County's senior population (65+) will increase from 10.9% in 2010 to 18.9% in 2030. When a variety of housing alternatives are available, seniors can continue to live within their communities of choice while opening up single-family housing opportunities for younger families.
Several of the communities also desire new housing options. Housing vacancy rates within NewAllen communities ranges from 0% to 11%, with four communities having less than 4% vacancy indicating a general need for more housing. The New Allen Alliance is interested in exploring and promoting quality residential development design that can differentiate its communities from surrounding urban areas. Development standards that allow for outbuildings such as garages and mother-in-law suites that architecturally complement the primary residence, and the development of pocket neighborhoods (clustered groups of small houses or apartments spaced around a shared open area) are both concepts that can be explored.
Strategy: Provide Adequate Infrastructure
The NewAllen Alliance strongly supports improved access to broadband throughout rural Allen County. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the term "broadband" refers to high-speed internet access that is always on. It is transferred by a variety of transmission technologies such as digital subscriber line (DSL), cable, fiber optic, and satellite by internet service providers (ISPs). Broadband speed, measured in megabits per second (Mbps), refers to the rate at which information is downloaded from, or uploaded to, the internet. Broadband is essential to supporting economic development, innovation, jobs, and global competitiveness, and ensures access to things like educational materials, telemedicine, and employment and community resources. In 2015, the FCC raised the standard for minimum download speeds to 25Mbps and minimum upload speeds to 3Mbps. Due to these changes, 13.1% of US households don't have access to broadband service capable of providing the standard parameters. A significant portion of East Allen County falls into this category.
Decentralized regulation of broadband infrastructure adds complexity in regard to how to obtain improved access to infrastructure. NewAllen supports a collective initiative that can establish an approach to priorities, cost, and funding throughout East Allen County.
Each community also has its own individual transportation, water and sewer needs. In particular, it will be important for individual communities to understand their capacity limitations in regard to water and sewer in order to support the development that they desire. This may require additional individual study based on growth scenarios.
Strategy: Engage and Connect to Support Investments
In order for the NewAllen Alliance Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) to be effective, the NewAllen Strategic Advancement Committee will be established by the New Allen Alliance to provide oversight and ownership in regard to the implementation of collaborative and individual community initiatives. Committee representation will be requested of those who have participated on the community and stakeholder committees throughout the SIP process. Meetings will be held on a quarterly basis. The New Allen Alliance will also seek out opportunities by which to continue to build the leadership capacity of participating communities through volunteer recruitment and leadership development activities.
It is also the desire of the NewAllen Alliance, in collaboration with Allen County, to hire a Community Development Liaison to provide organizational support of the identified initiatives. This position will coordinate with C&ED agencies and stakeholders throughout Allen County and will provide proactive leadership in the implementation of the SIP.