Weatherford Democrat

October 20, 2013

Moving downtown plan forward

Oct. 28 meeting allows public input on action plan prioritization


Weatherford Democrat

— By BRIAN SMITH

Residents told city officials what they wanted to see in a downtown earlier this year.

Now it’s time for the city to come back and see if they got it right.

In the eyes of Director of Planning and Development Craig Farmer, this is the gist for a public meeting on Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Cotten-Bratton Building for continued public input on changes to the downtown. Farmer said there won’t be as much discussion as to what people want to see at this meeting.

“We’re wanting to see if we’re prioritizing items correctly,” Farmer said. “Obviously, some things are more cost prohibitive than others, so they may be placed further on down the line but others we’ve talked about and have considered going ahead with.”

One of the cost prohibitive items is a proposed downtown inner loop that would take much of the truck traffic off U.S. Highway 180 downtown and move it north before putting it back on the highway on either side of the downtown circle. Working with TxDOT officials on getting an inner loop done is paramount to the success of the rest of the plan.

“Without the inner loop, TxDOT is not going to be interested in taking the state highway designation off of (North and South Main streets), which would take the diagonal parking on Main Street off the table,” Farmer said. “Doing that keeps us from tying the downtown area together, which is what we’re trying to do to begin with.”

Farmer said the idea of the inner loop is to get the traffic that wants to pass through the center of town the opportunity to do so while allowing traffic that wants to shop and explore downtown. The inner loop proposal is part of the city’s Transportation Plan and is separate from the downtown action plan.

One of the things in the 20-item action plan that can be done with relatively little cost is directional signage, or street blades, in the city, showing where certain areas are to the visitors, such as the downtown area.

City staff has worked with the Historic Preservation Committee and the downtown subcommittee in deciding what the public wanted out of the February meeting, which was also held at the Cotten-Bratton Building.

As with the February meeting, clickers will be used to gauge public support for an item.

Reservations are not required for the event, which is scheduled to take about two hours, Farmer said.

As in the February meeting, clickers will be used to gauge sentiment toward a particular idea.