A Vision of Growth

The intricacies of city planning

Published online: Mar 28, 2022 Articles, Business, East Idaho Business Brad Cramer
Viewed 1460 time(s)

“Imagine IF, A Plan to Move Idaho Falls Forward Together,” was designed as an invitation for all members of the community to share their ideas about what makes Idaho Falls a great place to live and do business, what could be improved and how the incredible growth the region is experiencing can be a force for good.

City planning has always been about big ideas. From L’Enfant and Banneker’s design for our nation’s capital Washington D.C., to Burnham’s Great White City and famous quote, “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood,” city plans have been meant to inspire. 

Even Idaho Falls’ first plan, written in 1946, included grand civic projects meant to reshape the city’s core. 

However, unlike those 19th and 20th century plans which were developed entirely by professionals and their big ideas, today’s planning is driven by blending best practices with the community’s voice. Also, the ideas aren’t just about public monuments and towering buildings. Rather, they are about projects and policies that lead to change both in the built environment as well as the framework that builds a community that all residents can enjoy, regardless of age, race, income or social status.  

Today’s plans must look at reinvigorating older, deteriorating areas as well as planning for new developments. They must link all of this to a city’s finances, ensuring the community doesn’t create and grow more than it can reasonably sustain long into the future. Today’s plans must find balance between long-term stability and short-term flexibility as technology continues to change the way we live and work. This was emphasized by the COVID-19 pandemic, which illustrated how quickly the world can change. 

Imagine IF was accomplished through a statistically valid set of community-wide surveys, focus groups, stakeholder meetings, workshops and a series of neighborhood meetings. The process also included collaboration with other city departments to understand their needs in providing a high level of service and how growth affects their ability to do so.  

Through this process, the City of Idaho Falls reached hundreds of households and asked what they love about Idaho Falls and what they are concerned may change as a result of growth. We asked what they would like to see as the future of Idaho Falls. The most common responses about what makes Idaho Falls a great place to live included descriptions of a town that still feels small, where neighbors still know each other and that has excellent outdoor spaces. As one resident described it, Idaho Falls is a “small town with a big heart. I have everything I need without being overwhelmed.”  

These responses help planners and others step outside the data driven metrics and capture a vision of the city’s soul. The result of this outreach and conversation with the citizens of Idaho Falls is a plan that directs the city to look at actions to address important issues including housing, transportation, health and economic stability.  

Imagine IF promotes good design that connects people with their neighbors, services they need, and their places of work. It also looked at smaller geographic areas instead of just reviewing the entire city to explore what specific needs exist and provide opportunities for residents to have meaningful input on plans for their own neighborhoods. 

In short, it helps create the type of place people want to be. 

By working towards the actions outlined in the plan, Idaho Falls will not only be able to grow in a sustainable way, but also maintain many of the features citizens have come to love about their town while adapting appropriately to change. 


Brad Cramer is the Director of Community Development Services for the City of Idaho Falls. For more information about Imagine IF visit www.idahofallsidaho.gov/1609/Imagine-IF.


Click here to read more of the March issue of Idaho Falls Magazine.

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