Public Hearing on District 1 Scheduled Wednesday
A peek around the corner at Main St. and Strongs in the heart of District 1. (City-Times photo)
By Brandi Makuski
With initial work underway towards updating the city’s comprehensive plan, leaders from Stevens Point are seeking input from residents in each of the 11 sections of the city, beginning with District 1.
The comprehensive plan is just what it sounds like, according to Community Development Director Michael Ostrowski: a broad look outlining the future infrastructure plans for all parts of the city.
The city’s current comprehensive plan was put together in 2006 with the intention of being reworked about once every ten years, Ostrowski said, adding the city will likely become “vastly different” from how the plan is currently laid out.
“It’s extremely important people give us their input,” Ostrowski said. “The comprehensive plan is the city’s guide to anything relating to land use and development. The opinions and suggestions of the residents are vital to the success of the plan, whether it’s locating new businesses or growing the city. If they want to see change, it’s extremely vital.”
The city held its first public hearing on the plan in August, which had about two dozens residents in attendance, and Mayor Andrew Halverson said he hopes future meetings bring out just as many- if not more- residents.But without input from area residents, city leaders say they are left with little direction to plan economic development, dedicate space for new housing, or build pedestrian accesses as well as at least some roadway features and expanded utilities into the city’s future.
“What I would love to see, at least for the neighborhood-specific meetings, is that we have at least that many people in attendance,” Halverson said. “Because we’re going to want those folks to engage in the conversation, even from a city-wide perspective. But we’re much more interested to get nuances of neighborhoods- goals, aspirations- on a micro- level. We want to start seeing those micro-neighborhood thoughts also parallelled to the grander picture. So we want to hear what they want in the city as a whole.”
Halverson said an example of potential input could be including greater pedestrian and bicyclist access near a particular school or other well-used community feature.
“The neighborhood-specific meetings are being done on purpose to drill down to specific parts of the city, on kind of a block-by-block basis to see if there are specific things that can be placed in the plan that could speak to the minds of those specific areas,” he said.
The current plan is about 300 pages and includes census reports and other statistical data relative to the city, but Ostrowski said his goal, once this update is complete, is to provide citizens with a short summary of the city’s future plans, with the full detailed plan available to anyone who wants to see it.
Both Halverson and Ostrowski said residents don’t need any special knowledge of urban planning to participate.
“In fact, it’s better if you don’t, honestly,” Halverson said. “That sounds strange, but we need a general citizen’s view of what they want their city to look like, feel like, and be. Not an urban planning expert coming out of the university who tells us what the best practices are, but someone who is going to utilize the community for many, many years into the future. It’s your city.”
The meeting for District 1, which encompasses nearly all of the downtown area between Second and Isadore streets, is scheduled for 6:30 PM on Wednesday, Oct. 8 in the Portage County Annex Building. Signs for the meeting will be posted inside the building and residents from all districts are welcome to attend.
“We plan to hold one for each district, trying to set the vision and take any suggestion the public might have,” Ostrowski said. “The plan isn’t just about urban planning; a lot of focus is on housing, natural resources, cultural elements, some arts in there. So it’s all-encompassing, there’s some sustainability elements in there too. There’s 9 elements the state requires you to have, but we could add other things, like sustainability. This town is going to be vastly different in terms of how the plan is laid out now.”
For more information call the Community Development Department at 715-346-1567, or click here.