Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sim City for real

What do you want Amarillo to look like, act like and feel like in the next 20 years?

Last week, the city of Amarillo launched a planning process designed to put ideas for the city's future into a blueprint that will guide city development.

Consultants from Kendig Keast Collaborative will lead the comprehensive planning effort with the help of a 21-member steering committee of Amarillo folks appointed by the Amarillo City Commission. The work will take more than a year.

Kendig Keast Vice President Gary Mitchell, the project manager for Amarillo's plan, gave committee members an overview of the job they've been assigned -- no easy task.

"This committee discusses things to, at the end of the day, get (the list) down to manageable priorities," Mitchell said. "You need to take a 30,000-foot view of the city and decide what do you work for in the near term to get to where you want to be in the long term."

The plan will touch on every aspect of life in Amarillo:

-- Land use: Development patterns, zoning, and even aesthetics.
-- Growth management: infrastructure, constraints, annexation, green building and conservation.
-- Mobility: streets, bike lanes, pedestrian travel and transit systems.
-- Parks and cultural offerings, including historic resources and preservation.
-- Housing and neighborhoods: available housing stock, variety and needs, undeveloped areas within the city that could be filled in, neighborhood design.
-- And, implementation: Determining priorities for the next one to three years, and action strategies for accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

"These things don't happen in a couple of years," Mitchell said of the long-term goals. "Some things you need to plant seeds for. You'll be laying groundwork for significant things."

Committee members are: Barry Bedwell, Anette Carlisle, Bill Chudej, LuLu Cowan, Beth Duke, Lilia Escajeda, the Rev. Darrel Fincher, Belinda Gonzales-Taylor, Ken Graham, Dr. David Hernandez, Bob Juba, Claudette Landess, Grover Martin, Rosie Powell, Four Price, Bobby Sanders, Don Sanders, Eddie Scott, Betty Trotter, Ben Whittenburg and Dana Williams.

At the June 17 meeting, Carlisle was elected to chair the committee. Escajada will serve as vice chair.

The input of residents in the city will be vital to the process. A series of public meetings will be scheduled so that the committee and consultants can hear what you want.

The meeting last week opened up a number of avenues for conversation. Because there's only some much room in the print edition, I hope to post some of the comments here and blog about the process as it goes along.

So check here, and please comment. And consider attending the public meetings when they're announced. Whether you want to plan the perfect city or just fix problems you perceive around here, this process is for you.

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