Community development officials say Grand Island will be exploring some uncharted territory: the formation of a Metropolitan Planning Organization or MPO.
"Now that Grand Island has reached the 50,000 population mark we are federally obligated to form an MPO," says Grand Island Community Development Administrator Marco Floreani.
Floreani says that while there are other MPOs in Nebraska, GI will be the first to form one since the federal government set up the current requirements.
So just what is an MPO?
Floreani explained to the Mayor's Advisory Council that it's essentially a planning and policy-making body formed to deal with an urban area's transportation needs. He says it's made of three boards: a technical advisory board, a policy making board, and a citizen advisory board.
"Being eligible for federal funds, the boards will make decisions regarding transportation, whether that's roads, public transit, or safety issues such as new street lights," says Floreani. "They then report back to the federal government with studies and information and in turn we get funding."
While GI's MPO is in its infancy stages, officials say they'll have to decide how to run the MPO -- either independently or through an existing host group such as a municipality.
Right now officials say they just want to get the word out about what an MPO is and why it's needed.
"There's going to be times that are challenging, that's all part of a growing community, but how we adapt, how we grow, and to what degree we embrace opportunity and challenges is all a part of what Grand Island's about," says Mayor Jay Vavricek.
Officials say there will be many more opportunities for public input as the MPO formation process continues.
While there is no deadline for that formation, Floreani says they hope to have an MPO designated by February.