By BRIAN SMITH
A more pedestrian-friendly downtown Weatherford was the item those that attended a recent meeting on downtown would like to see the most.
The city’s Historic Preservation Committee, in conjunction with the Main Street Program, hosted a meeting in the Cotten-Bratton Building last month. About 120 participants gave their opinion on what would they would like to see downtown. Strategic Community Solutions released the report of the Feb. 5 meeting last week.
About 97 percent of those who responded said making a more pedestrian-friendly area is their top short-term opportunity. Seven other issues and opportunities ranked in the 90 percentile as needed to be done in the short term. They are:
• Having new development in downtown.
• Having convenient parking for downtown businesses.
• Maintaining the traditional character or “feel” of downtown.
• Creating the right mix of incentives for new and existing businesses.
• Making the city more business-friendly.
• Building more community support for downtown.
• Creating or enhancing a downtown ‘brand’ or identity to be marketed.
Several themes were repeated by voters throughout the meeting as things they would like to see at some point concerning the area. They are:
• Tradition and authentic historical charm.
• Diversity of available experiences.
• Fun and entertaining for families and adults.
• A small town ambiance that contrasts with the larger cities in the region.
One of the last parts of the nearly three-hour meeting included opinions on what items needed to be done immediately by stakeholders in the downtown area. Those included creating a vision and action plan for the area as well as developing incentives for private investments that keep the present character of downtown, which many attending the meeting thought was a “calling card” to the area.
Both ideas can be done at the same time with help from city staff, the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce and the private sector, the report stated.