PLATTSMOUTH – Cass County could soon join the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, a regional council of governments that addresses mutual and overlapping concerns on various issues, such as transportation, community and economic growth and development, air quality, and solid and hazardous waste concerns.
Based in Omaha, MAPA as it is commonly referred to, currently serves five counties: Douglas, Washington and Sarpy counties in Nebraska, and Pottawattamie and Mills counties in Iowa.
MAPA’s monthly Board of Directors meeting is set for today (Thursday) to vote on Cass County’s membership, pending the signature of Gov. Pete Ricketts on a bill the Legislature recently passed changing the boundaries of Nebraska planning and development regions, which put Cass County into MAPA’s region.
Up until now, the county has been part of the Southeast Nebraska Development District, based in Lincoln.
This bill, introduced by Sen. Robert Clements of Elmwood, was at the request of county and Plattsmouth city officials, said Janet McCartney, a county commissioner.
“We had been looking at this for several years,” she said on Tuesday. “I felt that with our closeness to Sarpy and Douglas counties that Cass County would fit better with MAPA. Hopefully, we would have more of a chance to get funding. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
The bill introduced by Clements went through the legislative process quickly, McCartney said.
She brought up the possible membership with MAPA at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.
“I think it’s a very good move,” she said at the meeting.
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With the governor’s signature and approval by MAPA’s board, the membership would then go before MAPA’s Council of Officials where it would need at least a 75 percent approval vote, according to Sue Cutsforth, MAPA’s information officer.
The job of a development district is to help communities plan and reach their goals, Cutsforth said.
MAPA would assist Cass County to secure grants and other funding opportunities, she added.
“They would have an organization closer to them geographically and 50 percent of Cass County workers work in Omaha,” Cutsforth said.
What’s more, Cass County is already involved with Sarpy County in the development of a bicycle/pedestrian trail along U.S. Highway 75, according to Cutsforth.
“Cass County was instrumental in getting that started,” she said.
McCartney said she has also been serving on a MAPA transportation committee for several years now.
“We’re excited to have Cass County in our district,” Cutsforth said.