Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The voices of your community

At least 50 residents attended a community meeting tonight at San Jacinto Elementary School to talk about their vision for the future of the city of Amarillo.

Their number was matched, collectively, by members of a city Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, the city Planning and Zoning Commission, city staff and elected leaders.

If you weren't there, where were you?

You have a couple more chances to participate in the meetings, which will help those city representatives draft a comprehensive plan that will act as a guide for the kind of city we want Amarillo work toward becoming in the next couple of decades.

What are the challenges we face? The opportunities we shouldn't miss?

Try, try, try to attend either of the next two meetings, or both:
-- 6:30 p.m., Sept. 8, Lawndale Elementary School, 2215 S. Bivins St.
-- 6:30 p.m., Sept. 9, Puckett Elementary School, 6700 Oakhurst Drive

Add your voice to these comments:

On thinking like a city approaching 200,000 in population: "We spend a lot of time bragging about our low tax rate instead of building on big ideas -- and I'm not saying this is it -- but like a sports complex downtown. They say, 'We can't do that.'"

"If we do have increased growth, I’d like to encourage more people-scaled developments and less dependence on the automobile for just your everyday errands."

About a lack of follow-through on vision for some valuable or historical areas, such as Sixth Avenue, commonly known as the Sixth Street Historic District: "Yeah, we want to save the community, but we forgot why."

"In terms of development, we're in an area all around us where water is depleting. Amarillo has lots of water for the future, but we're taking it from other parts of the Panhandle. And, when agriculture goes, lots of communities are going to be hurt, including Amarillo."

"We need to think in terms of saving the playas (playa lakes), not plowing under the playas."

On placing water conservation requirements/regulations on property owners: "The sprinkler systems around here do a really good job of watering the sidewalks."

On the "embarrassing” lack of curbside recycling: “Austin does it. Are we just stupid up here? Over a 10-year period, they ought to be able to phase it in."

"One good thing is that downtown revitalization has gotten off high center."

Growth has been well-managed, “to a certain extent,” one man said. “But when you concentrate all your medical facilities in one part of town, it creates difficulties, as far as access."

"I have always wondered why Amarillo's hospitals and emergency systems are located in one area. If it ever got hit by a tornado, there would be a lot of problems."

"One thing the that comes with growth -- and the city's doing a real good job with it -- is health care. The city is building a new health department, and it will take care of a lot of the ... refugee population."

On the need for health department offices in all quadrants and for educational tools, such as "newsletters in water bills about how to manage the (H1N1) flu."

"We don’t have retirement facilities for people that are poor ... or average."

On good planning in newer neighborhoods: "But that's new. They haven't done anything for the old areas."

"We are in need of urban infill. We have all this new growth, and Paramount (Boulevard) is just a wasteland. We've got that empty (former) Michael's store. We have two empty Albertson's."

The city should design roadways "not just looking as bicycles as recreation, but as transportation."

"I'd like to see support for green building."

"The tremendous brain drain we have: It's been talked about, but it's just been talked about."

"Do we have enough transportation for parents who are disabled (and) trying to get their kids to school? ... A lot of kids are being raised by their grandparents."

"We're behind the times. There's no technological hub."

"Future stormwater containment areas ... should be usable public spaces. We should be using them as amenities, instead of building a big hole in the ground like we have at Western Plaza (now the Western Crossing shopping center). I don't think it would, but we need to make sure that can't happen again."

"Aside from the Big Texan and Cadillac Ranch, I'm not really sure what folks from 700 miles away would think of when you ask, 'What do you think of when you think about Amarillo?'"

Amarillo has an "I've been through it" image.

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