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Public input refines vision

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By Katy Korkos

 

A slightly smaller crowd gathered Thursday in the White Rock Fire Station to participate in the second planning session in as many days for redevelopment of the town center.“I see a lot of familiar faces, as well as a few new ones,” said Chris Beynon of consultants Moore Iacofano Goltsman (MIG). “Last night we asked for comment, and tonight, we have coalesced that feedback where we saw areas of a lot of consensus.”The team from MIG, including Beynon, Jay Renkens and Anita Punja, had spent the day incorporating input from Wednesday’s meeting into a refined vision statement, a refined physical layout and a more specific implementation strategy for a White Rock Master plan. Economic Planning Systems’ Dan Guimond and Josh Birks provided the economic studies and contributed an economic strategy to planning.“We do not want to be planning pie in the sky; we want to be grounded in economic reality,” Beynon said.Beynon presented a “preferred development scenario” comprised of several key points. The scenario shows a mixed use-town center at Sherwood Blvd. and N.M. 4, with a commercial concentration and synergy. It also shows a public gathering space and plaza, an improved arroyo and trails, a range of new housing and a concentration of offices near the intersection of Rover Blvd. and N.M. 4.“Nothing is set in stone, but we’re starting to hone in on things,” Beynon said.Reynon showed slides that depicted how a gateway to White Rock, an improved arroyo trail and a new, pedestrian-friendly intersection at Sherwood and N.M. 4 might look.Public comment was solicited throughout the evening, and all of the comments were noted by Renkens on a very large poster that filled a wall in the fire station’s training room.Birks presented a list of potential public-private development projects, ranked in order through a matrix that showed each project’s feasibility. The top three projects are a  municipal complex, which would include a library, senior center, youth center and town hall;  a new neighborhood retail area;  and workforce housing, which would include a range of housing  types. Birks suggested the county might sell its land on Rover, where the old fire station sits, and on Longview to pay for  the cost of developing  its land on Sherwood, near Piñon Park.Now that the local suggestions have been incorporated into the vision statement, and a specific scenario has been defined as the public favorite, the consultants will go back to work to refine the plans, returning in February for another public forum. A draft plan will be presented to elicit further feedback from the public on Feb. 13, and MIG consultants expect to present the plan to council on March 18.The project website, which posts all of the documents pertaining to the plan and a synopsis of each meeting, is found at www.planningwhiterock.org.