A year’s worth of planning had its first tangible result when the Weatherford City Council approved of the downtown action plan at its meeting January 27.
Planning and development director Craig Farmer presented the plan, which staff began working on with a kick-off meeting about a year ago. At that meeting, about 115 citizens brainstormed ideas, prioritizing those ideas that they would like to see happen in Weatherford.
Work on the plan continued throughout the summer and with another meeting and presentation of the plan in October. The downtown committee, historic preservation commission, heritage society, planning and development and parks and recreation departments all took part in the plan along with city residents.
“For years we’ve been working to bring something to the council that can be approved so that we can preserve this precious heritage that we have in Weatherford,” said Kathleen Wildwood, a member of the historic preservation commission.
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But after a year of planning and revision, the plan of action was finally approved by all involved.
“It’s been pretty well run around and gotten input and review,” Farmer said.
Business owners’ and other citizens’ top priorities for downtown included the downtown inner loop, better lighting, public restrooms and benches and incentives for façade restoration.
The top priority was that the city adopt the 2009 building codes, which it did at its last meeting.
The city has also already begun working with the Texas Department of Transportation to plan the loop bypassing downtown.
“The staff is moving forward,” Farmer says. “We’re trying to get help with others to make this a reality.”
Terry Hughes, director of transportation and public works, referred to the downtown action plan as the beating heart of the community.
At the meeting, Hughes showed a video called Path to the Future, showing the city’s recent accomplishments and future goals, including the downtown plan.
“I’ve heard it said that one of the main roles of government is to create a climate for success,” Hughes said. “This body – working through your various boards, commissions, citizens committee – has created that climate. And you’ve positioned this community to be very successful which makes us a highly desirable place to be.”
The video connected projects such as the hike and bike trails, reflection pond, Heritage Park, amphitheater, dog park, lake and dam improvements and enhanced parking.
“There is a cohesion to everything that is being done,” Hughes said of the many projects. “Obviously we have a lot of work ahead of us, I know we can do all of it.”
Mayor Dennis Hooks said it’s exciting to see the plan - already in action - with the formation of a committee that will outline the priorities, how they will be done and how much it will cost.
Hughes said funding will determine how soon the plan will be completed.