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White Rock plan takes shape

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By Katy Korkos

Dozens of White Rock residents gathered Wednesday evening in the new White Rock Fire Station to provide input to the consultants designing a master plan for White Rock development. County councilors, developers, steering committee members and many other interested residents attended the three-hour charrette, which will be followed by a two-hour session tonight.Chris Beynon and Jay Renkens from the planning firm of Moore Iacofano Goltsman (MIG) and Dan Guimond of Economic Planning Systems were there to provide background for locals to use in a homegrown plan for the future of the community.Beynon facilitated the session, calling it “a planning as well as an economic strategy session.” He introduced a vision statement for White Rock’s future and asked people whether the statement expressed the true values of the community. People were asked to envision a White Rock of the future when they considered the statement, which reads in part “The commercial center of White Rock is a thriving, active focal point for the community. Reflecting the area’s unique identity and natural beauty, White Rock’s center serves local residents, commuters and tourists with a range of services and activities.”The full text of the preliminary vision statement is available on the project website, www.planningwhiterock.org, along with all of the supporting documents the planners are using.Guimond presented the economic overview of the town, which currently has about 2,500 households, with an average income of $107,000. Fewer than 8 percent of White Rock households bring in less than $50,000 per year.“Recent announcements have overshadowed several years of stability,” Guimond said, while adding that the larger trend had seen a 1.1 percent growth in employment each year. Guimond’s studies show that the highest demand for houses is in the $275,000-$350,000 price range.MIG brought four design scenarios for comment, and broke the crowd into two breakout sessions, one on each side of the room, to go through each component of the scenarios. Common elements among all the scenarios were “public gathering spaces, a concentration of commercial activity, access to transit and preserving the walkability of the town,” Renyon said.Both break-out sessions agreed that a hybrid or mix of scenario “B” and  scenario “C” would be preferred. In those designs, some of White Rock’s commercial development would be to the north of N.M. 4, and a “center of gravity” would be located near Bonnie View Drive.Two ideas that met with almost universal acceptance from locals were the proposal that a gateway or entry to White Rock be created, and that the Cañada del Buey be enhanced by means of a trail or path. A more controversial idea was that traffic be slowed along N.M. 4 between Rover Blvd. and Grand Canyon/ Pajarito Road.Other popular suggestions were that a civic center be incorporated in any new design and that a safe intersection be created to lead pedestrians across the highway.Tonight’s meeting at 6 p.m. in Fire Station 3, located on N.M. 4 in White Rock, will see a revised presentation of the scenarios by the consultants, who will incorporate the public’s suggestions. The public is encouraged to attend, and also to comment on the plans on the website.