Honestly, for something like this to take off, I don’t think we’d even have to entirely recreate what professional contractors and consultants do. The more realistic place to begin is probably to provide direct community input to feasibility studies.
Whenever you’re planning a project, every project manager for some development thing has to:
look at what’s already there and what’s about to happen (existing conditions)
pick out who would care if you change the present-day picture (identify stakeholders)
figure out lofty, vague ideas about what people want -and translate them into things that can('t) be done (scoping)
Yeah there are lots of technical or resource-intensive things like detailed design/engineering, traffic simulations, or environmental analyses -but there’s just as many steps (especially earlier in the process!) where you don’t need as much technical skills to effectively support or rule out development ideas.
A city or community advisory council for planning and early project development would pull off something like this -without having to spend additional time/money on third-party consultants!- and possibly prevent redundant initiatives (see Dix Park vs Lake Wheeler vs DoSo). I don’t know about y’all, but I would be down to (remotely) poke my head in to provide oversight or input for things like this?
Besides, I think the best ideas start off as accidents and half-assed jokes. …so why not this, too?