As a firm, we are currently talking to stakeholders interested in improving two pieces of property to create a green space, each measuring approximately 100’x100’ but part of a mass transit facility. And even though the two pieces of property are flat, relatively small, and simple to design (or re-design) from an engineering and landscaping standpoint, the number of stakeholders and government agencies involved make it a very challenging endeavor. In other words, the design and construction project is relatively straightforward; however, the review and permitting processes are expected to be onerous and challenging. Therefore, per best project management practices, planning is required at a more “grand” scale and in greater detail.
Currently, the project is in a very conceptual stage. Not only is the funding not yet secured, but the final design has not even been started. And this is due in part to the fact that community input is required, and there will be many different and conflicting expectations. This means that stakeholder engagement and management will be crucial to the project’s success and the community’s ability to raise the necessary funds. Therefore, in this case, the stakeholder management plan needs to start before the actual scope; and that is because community input and their expectations will dictate what will be designed and constructed. And although this type of project is not unique, it is not all too common for consultants to not be given a project scope early on and an anticipated budget. However, this project type is becoming increasingly common as the need and desire to create more green public spaces intensifies, and more community involvement is required. At the same time, public agency oversight and approval are tested since these types of projects have not been the norm in many jurisdictions.
Since these types of projects are relatively new, the lead-up time for the actual project start is longer and requires additional care in the following areas, such as:
- Pre-approval from public agencies to use and infringe on their properties
- Earlier than usual, stakeholder engagement
- Need for fundraising as part of developing the cost baseline
- Risk management to ensure that the project does not stall from the start due to bureaucracy, lack of funding sources, internal stakeholder conflicts, and competing interests
Some of these projects, such as Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro, have been in the planning stage for a couple of decades. It takes a lot of patience and diligence to keep the vision alive of what the project will look like, as well as a lot of communication to avoid volunteer and staff fatigue. To that end, in some cases, it is best to create a program with successive projects to celebrate some interim wins and make it easier to organize and assess progress.
If you need assistance or consulting services with your project, please contact us. We will be happy to help you achieve your vision.