First public Downtown Arlington planning session sidesteps open questions
photo by Karen Gavis
This story was first published in the Arlington Voice on May 10, 2018.
A standing room only crowd converged on Legal Draft Beer Company in Downtown Arlington Wednesday evening to express what they would like to see happen in the area.
City staff guided the public meeting designed to gather input from citizens about their visions for the future. The meeting is part of an effort to update Downtown Arlington’s Master Plan, which was originally drafted in 2004.
However, participants were told that the meeting was not the time to ask questions about how the vision would materialize. Comment sheets were available as well as a wall-mounted poster board for people to write their opinions.
Attendees were shown slides that included “welcoming” places like Levitt Pavilion and “unwelcoming” buildings such as an older motel in the area. Those present were then directed to individual tables to speak one-on-one with city employees and place stickers on picture-laden poster boards.
At one workstation, participants were asked to place a sticker beside the picture representing what they would like to see most developed. The bike lane photo was the least popular while sidewalks were seemingly more important.
At another station, participants were asked if they think Center and Mesquite streets should include two-way traffic.
A “preferred housing” station asked participants for their opinion on housing options, with participants split over apartments and single-family homes.
“I think it’s great that they are gathering opinions,” said 33-year-old Chris McMurrough, a UT Arlington computer engineering professor who owns Cloud 9 Perception, an automation company on Collins Street, and has lived in Arlington his whole life.
McMurrough said he wished there had been some explanation along with the photos to provide clarity.
He added that while there’s lots of talk about building more multi-family units, he’s concerned what those structures might look like in 20 or 30 years after the builders have left.
“They want more young professionals to come here,” he said. “But young professionals want single-family homes.”
From park benches and lighting to sidewalks and shopping, plenty of choices were presented.
Among the crowd was Cynthia Chippendale, owner of Potager’s Other Stuff, a coffee shop located on Mesquite Street near City Hall.
“It all sounds great,” she said, “if they don’t run me out first.”
The construction occurring on Abram Street is creating access issues for businesses like Potager’s. Chippendale noted that she had been unable to get to work one day recently because of the construction and road closures.
Those who would like to provide input for Downtown Arlington’s Master Plan can also complete an online survey.
A final draft of the plan is expected to be completed and presented to the City Council in the fall.
NOTE: According to the city's website, a series of public meetings will be held throughout the planning process. Future meetings are scheduled for June 13, 2018, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sept. 5, 2018, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with locations to be announced.