Like its name implies, the Heart of Arlington Neighborhood Association covers 1.75 square miles of the city’s central sector, a mix of single-family homes, apartment complexes, businesses and public spaces just south of downtown and east of the University of Texas at Arlington.About three-fifths of its residents have called the area — bounded by UTA Boulevard and Border Street to the north, Pioneer Parkway to the south, Cooper Street to the west and Collins Street to the east — home for at least 11 years, according to a survey conducted in 2010. Several of the city’s historic houses are located within it.This week, HANA joined seven other areas in the city that have a neighborhood action plan. A process that formally began in January 2010 concluded with the final reading at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting of an ordinance that incorporates the HANA plan into the city’s comprehensive plan.A group of residents led by Richard Thomas met about once a month during the formulation of the plan. They canvassed the neighborhood to discuss ideas and issues with residents, coordinated efforts to distribute and collect information, and conducted periodic neighborhood meetings.The task force also spent time identifying and studying issues related to the HANA neighborhoods; drafting goals and actions; and studying topics such as sustainability, traffic calming, park improvements and redevelopment opportunities. They used results from an online survey that about 10 percent of HANA households completed to come up with broad focus areas.In February, after hundreds of hours of work over three years, they presented their draft plan at a meeting attended by about 60 residents. A few improvements were suggested, and in the end the plan received strong approval.“Everyone thought the direction was good and the strategies were acceptable throughout the neighborhood and overall very positive,” Clayton Husband, a project manager with the Community Development and Planning Department who guided the task force, told the City Council in April.The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the plan for council approval. On May 7, the first reading of the ordinance took place and was approved 8-0.Thomas told the council that night that he felt the process was well publicized and that a good cross-section of residents participated heavily in the discussions.“The core group had a good span from north to south,” he said. “... I feel like we had a good mixture of the neighborhood involved.”The neighborhood even got to practice some of its strategies during the process of putting the plan together. When residents heard that a $41 million, five-story, 335-unit apartment complex for young professionals, college professors and other higher-wage earners was planned near UT Arlington, they asked their city contacts to put them in touch with the developer, Lev Investments.“We had three or four meetings,” Thomas said. “At first, we didn’t think the project was ideal for that location. But realized that we probably wouldn’t get our idea of the ideal project, and we decided that this project was better than what’s there now.”After getting the developer to make a few changes, Thomas said, HANA wound up supporting the project as it went through the city approval process. About 100 aging apartments will be torn down to make way for the project, which is expected to break ground this year and take 18 months to complete.
Patrick M. Walker, 682-232-4674 Twitter: @patrickmwalker1