-By Julia Steege-Reimann-
Fast-growing Gilbert, Arizona takes award-winning strides to improve its built environment
Gilbert, Arizona is growing rapidly. In fact, its population has doubled every five years since 1980. As the town prepares for a boom in housing and development, Gilbert’s leaders are tapping into resident voices to make sure they grow smartly and not just quickly.
“While Gilbert is currently in a cycle of growth that could eventually change once the community is fully built-out in a decade or two. Our goal is to try and work with residents to understand, at a much more specific level, what we need to do to make sure that Gilbert still continues to thrive 20 years from now,” said Patrick Banger, Town Manager.
Gilbert’s built environment is one shining example of how continuous feedback and long-range planning leads to resident satisfaction. Built environment includes housing, development, land use, and resource and land conservation
The Town regularly conducts The National Community Survey (The NCS) to gather feedback from residents. Data from the survey show that Gilbert’s residents are happy with its built environment. Gilbert’s residents rate almost all aspects of the Town’s built environment higher than the national average. These aspects include the overall quality of new development and variety of housing options, among others.
“Gilbert includes residents in their planning to make sure the Town’s Built Environment meets the needs of the growing population,” said Damema Mann, Director of National Engagement for Polco / National Research Center.
For its efforts, Gilbert received the 2020 Voice of the People (VOP) Award for Excellence in Built Environment. This is the only national award that honors local governments based on feedback from residents. The award is presented by Polco / National Research Center and the International City & County Management Association (ICMA).
This award acknowledges local governments with the highest ratings from The NCS and that best use The NCS to improve their communities.
Town Leaders use The NCS results to inform their vision for the built environment. For example, leaders used The NCS results to develop The General Plan. This plan identifies goals for land use, development, new roads, and energy and resource conservation.
As they grow into the future, Gilbert’s leaders know that listening to residents will help them create the best built environment.
“Gilbert will continue to solicit feedback and listen to and engage with our residents, use data and not just sit back and let growth happen, but proactively drive growth in ways that will have long-term benefits,” said Melanie Dykstra, Volunteer and Community Resources Supervisor.