Dorchester (pop. 620) is located in Saline County; of those 620 people, 328 are low-to-moderate income persons. Dorchester was incorporated in 1881 along the railroad as were many other communities in the area. Residents there truly enjoy the small town atmosphere. The Village of Dorchester believes success comes from planning. This mantra was adopted in 2004 as Dorchester began its first Community Strategic Planning project as part of organizing the Dorchester Community Foundation.
Momentum from those early meetings continues to pulse through the community. Activities that position the community for future growth and opportunities continue to be reviewed, prioritized and developed by citizen groups and local government agencies. Existing facilities have been renovated to continue to serve community needs and new facilities have been built to support future opportunities. Investments have been made in schools, parks, government services and buildings throughout Dorchester. The Village Board of Dorchester has taken a leadership role in providing for the future delivery of government services, particularly water and wastewater.
Before any ground was broken for construction projects, planning activities prioritized the best available use of resources for infrastructure investments. The community has completed two community surveys and four planning projects, and just started a fifth planning project. Planning studies have included a preliminary engineering study for water improvements, a preliminary engineering study for wastewater improvements, a street improvement study, and a housing market study.
Currently, the community is working through the planning activities to create a new Comprehensive Development Plan with updates to Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances. The Village prioritized projects, and has now completed three major infrastructure projects, and initiated the design phase of a fourth. Investments have been made to provide more efficient services and meet regulatory requirements. In 2010 a complete retention sewer lagoon was constructed, replacing an obsolete discharge lagoon system. In 2012 a municipal well and water line replacement project was completed. In 2013 a new water tower was constructed and the obsolete tower was removed. A new storm water drainage project was initiated in 2013 with completion expected in 2014. Other projects prioritized through community planning activities have included two nuisance abatement programs and a housing rehabilitation project.
For all of the planning and water improvement projects, a total $283,200 of Community Development Block Grant funds was used, with $94,000 matched by the community and local boards thus far.
Homeowners and businesses worked with the Village to successfully complete the nuisance abatement programs during the last two years, improving community appearance and quality of life. The community is still pursuing opportunities to implement a housing rehabilitation program that will help homeowners substantially rehabilitate their homes.
There are many successful civic activities being developed and led by local organizations and citizens, as well as successful projects by the local school district and the fire department. The community foundation has been fundraising for a new community entrance sign. These investments not only preserve the community, but build the local leadership capacity and energize citizens enabling the community to adapt and prepare for its next 100 years as an endearing place to call home.