Weatherford Democrat

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August 29, 2013

Council reviews downtown development plan

Still in draft phase, plan looks to guide changes to downtown through 2030

By BRIAN SMITH

Weatherford City Council members Tuesday night got a look at the draft of an action plan to develop the downtown area and its sphere of influence.

Assistant City Manager Sharon Hayes said the plan comes from working with a number of focus groups and city staff during the last eight months or so. Four plan areas — making the area more inviting, economic development, keeping the downtown area historic character and safety concerns — were broken down into 20 subareas that will be worked on over the next several years, funding permitting.

Some of the ideas to accomplish the plan goals were listed as part of a report Hayes gave to the council:

More inviting

Improved technology with wi-fi in businesses and music, enhanced aesthetics, including more lighting, benches, landscaping, gathering places and a way-finding system along with expanded programming with smaller monthly events and the creation of a Downtown Merchants Association are all on the agenda to make the area more pedestrian-and shopper-friendly, which many respondents to recent surveys and meetings say is needed and could be done relatively soon.

Having more events on the square would increase revenue and visibility to businesses on the square, according to a staff report.

Economic development

Marketing of the southeast quadrant of the square with the creation of street events and more entertainment venues are being considered along with preserving and marketing the T&P Depot north of downtown. Preserving the historic character of downtown, which current business owners say they want to do, could be done by providing incentives for facade restoration of those businesses and even those that are presently vacant.

Creating a Downtown Merchants Association would also aid in promotion and marketing and is something that could be done fairly quickly and at little to no cost, which was noted by members of the Historic Preservation Commission and its recently formed downtown committee.

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