ALBANY — Officials at three of Albany’s primary tourist attractions — Chehaw Park and Zoo, the Flint RiverQuarium and Thronateeska Heritage Center — are seeking the public’s input as they devise a master plan that will carry the attractions, which have united as the Artesian Alliance, into the future.
“The Artesian Alliance includes some of the area’s most beloved and well-used attractions,” Chehaw Director Morgan Burnette said. “Even so, we feel that the alliance is only beginning to glimpse its tremendous potential as a community asset.
“Evaluation and development of a clear path forward is the most effective way of ensuring continued positive progress toward realizing that potential. In other words, the Artesian Alliance needs a strategic plan.”
The Artesian Alliance hired Felis Consulting to begin the strategic planning process in June. The overarching goal of the consultant is to develop a strategic business and development plan that will guide staff when making decisions and plans for the future of the organizations. It will ensure that those plans are the best options for community interests, animal care, and the mission of each organization.
“Input from the public is a critically vital first step in the development of this plan,” Burnette said. “We are at the very beginning of our strategic planning for our master plan for all three organizations. We are trying to get community feedback on what they want to see and what’s important to them. There is no point in us doing something if it’s not what the community wants. So getting that feedback is really important in this first step as we start to develop a master plan for each organization and the alliance itself.”
Alliance officials held a community feedback event at the downtown Pretoria Fields Brewery this week, and Tommy Gregors, the executive director of all three venues and the alliance, said other similar events are planned for the future.
“These attractions are for our community, and we want them to have a part in deciding what we do at each venue moving forward,” Gregors said. “Our supporters and stakeholders have an opportunity to play a part in the future of all three venues.”
Burnette encouraged the public to participate in the process as the alliance master plan starts to unfold.
“Fill out a quick, interactive survey,” she said. “It’s a good opportunity to share their ideas. If it doesn’t address something they want or feel is important, we will be glad to take their comments on email as well.
“The important thing is that people know this is something all three places have needed for a long time. Without the alliance, none of us would be able to do this. So the fact we have come together and pooled our resources, we are able to do something for each organization that we could not have done on our own.”
Gregors said opportunities to have input on the master plan are available on social media of all three venues. Participants will be eligible for prizes that include tickets to the venues.