Recently, Derby’s new city planner, Scott Knebel, shared that Vision Derby 2040 is ready for public review and comment. The city’s plan is under construction and awaiting final approval of the vision for Derby’s next two decades. There have been many moments during the past year when the public and other community representatives have had the chance to weigh in and the plan reflects these voices.

You can view a summary video of the draft plan and read an executive summary and/or the Vision Derby 2040 document at VisionDerby.com. I did both, and wanted to share my reaction.

First, the care, thoughtfulness, and research in the plan is evident. The main tenets are well reasoned and in line with broader trends for Kansas and the United States of America. A lot of the plan seems pretty straightforward and, dare I say, obvious – a collective vision and written goals are powerful tools, so that did not bother me. In short, the vision fits to keep Derby a nice place to live and make it even nicer. Sold. Onto the details.

In particular, I appreciate the vision’s commitment to transportation accessibility (Chapter 4). I am excited by a Derby where transportation by many methods is easy, including on foot. I also think it makes sense to encourage more housing development at upper and lower price points (Chapter 6), deal with vacant properties, protect resources, “not overly strain the city budget,” and focus on what makes Derby unique.

As a long-time enthusiast for Derby’s parks and hike and bike paths, I was excited to see a continued focus on green spaces as a competitive advantage (Chapter 5). That’s why I chose to buy a home here and it’s the amenity most likely to keep me here. I am also pleased by the commitment to being proactive about sustainability and “green” practices (Chapter 7).

There’s a lot more worth reading, but there was something I noticed missing. Although age, income, and other socioeconomic factors are addressed and proactively planned for, race is barely mentioned, other than to note Derby is 91% white. To put that another way, more than 9 out of 10 residents are white.

According to 2019 population estimates on census.gov, Kansas is 86.4% white, and the United States is 76.5% white. If Derby’s racial makeup were to echo the state’s right now, there would be approximately 1,300 more non-white residents than there are, and 1,300 fewer white residents. I am not suggesting any of my neighbors move. But, since one of the goals of Vision 2040 is to proactively develop neighborhoods and attract new residents (to the tune of more than 10,000 people over the next decades), it makes sense to be intentional about inviting a diverse array of new residents.

I think it would be the right thing to consider adding language to focus on proactively attracting and welcoming more residents of non-white backgrounds. Green may be “magic” in Derby but it’s not the only color important to our future as a vibrant and thriving city.

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(1) comment

Scott Knebel

Excellent comments. Vision Derby 2040 does need to be more purposeful in promoting diversity and inclusion. We will add that to the list of revisions needed before the plan is formally considered for adoption.

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