What’s Up with a Strategy for Downtown?

“Downtown 2020” is the name given to the latest staff thinking about how to improve our downtown. Rae Buckley from the Town’s planning staff is coordinating a process for deciding what happens next. Ms. Buckley gave a report to the Council in January and Tuesday, March 15 she, together with the Town’s consultant Rod Stevens, presented the next steps in the process to the Planning Commission.

There have been many effort in recent years to come up with a plan for revitalizing downtown, including:

After all the time, effort, and money invested in these studies, the question remains:  What is the community vision for Downtown?  Is the Town really ready to move ahead with this proposed work plan?  What are the community compromises upon which a community vision rests?  In order for the new plan to succeed, the citizenry, town staff and elected officials will need to achieve consensus on several issues. These include:

  • Off-campus student housing; where should it be located? What form should it take?
  • Public gathering spaces; how many, how big, and where?
  • Streetscape design, including building heights, setbacks, sidewalk dimensions, lighting, etc.
  • Achieving good transitions from commercial center to adjacent neighborhoods;
  • Mobility plan, including public transit, biking, walking, driving and parking.

A consensus on these critical issues must be present before Council takes any action on the Downtown 2020 Work Plan. Defining the process for arriving at a community vision is the next logical step to achieve a successful Downtown.

There will be several additional opportunities for residents to provide input on these and other issues concerning the future of Downtown:

  • April 6 General information drop-in sessions. Hargraves Community Center (main building)  8 am to 10 am; with a brief overview presentation at 9 am; 6 pm to 8 pm; with a brief overview presentation at 7 pm; (The format of these two meetings will be identical. The purpose of holding two meetings is to provide multiple opportunities for participants to attend and provide their input.)
  • May  (meeting TBD):  Planning Commission Meeting. Staff will return to the Planning Commission and seek a recommendation to Council about the Downtown 2020 Work Plan.
  • June (depending on outcome of Planning Commission consideration) Council consideration of the Downtown 2020 Work Plan.

PBS interview with James Fallows, “How America is Putting Itself Back Together.’

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