Weatherford Democrat

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September 4, 2013

Talking downtown

Group to further discuss downtown plans tonight

By BRIAN SMITH

Members of the Historic Preservation Committee and Downtown subcommittee will meet this evening to discuss what to do with a proposed action plan concerning the downtown area.

Committee members met two weeks ago to go over the results from more than 200 visitors from the Peach Festival and their thoughts on downtown. City staff and the committees have been meeting with a number of focus groups since February to determine what growth, if any, they want the downtown area to have. Many have suggested making it more pedestrian-friendly with smaller events going on on a more frequent basis and eliminating the truck traffic around the square.

The committee made their suggestions. The full plan of improvements wanted and suggested by the year 2030 was then unveiled to the Weatherford City Council at a meeting Aug. 27. Main Street Program Manager Kim Thieme gave a history on how the city got to this point, with the revitalization of the Main Street Program helping to turn things around downtown.

Assistant City Manager Sharon Hayes gave an overview of four areas — making downtown more inviting, furthering economic development, keeping future development Sein line with historic character and pedestrian safety — along with 20 action plan points in an attempt to spur downtown growth. Some of the ideas  — such as creating a Downtown Merchants Association and creating incentives for building facade restoration — can be done quickly while others, such as the creation of a downtown inner loop to move trucks and other heavy traffic away from the downtown square itself, could take some time as other entities are consulted and funds procured.

Council members praised the work of the committees and requested further updates. The committees are scheduled to continue discussions on the action plan and make some decisions on things to include and leave out.

Director of Planning and Development Craig Farmer said at the original joint committee meeting once the committees had hammered out some final ideas, a large meeting would be scheduled so the public could weigh in on its thoughts before the final action plan is submitted to the council.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the downstairs meeting room at City Hall, 303 Palo Pinto St.

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