Archived Story

Draft plan addresses downtown/waterfront

Published 7:02pm Saturday, December 1, 2012

The downtown/waterfront section of Washington is among the five key areas discussed in Washington’s draft comprehensive plan.
The draft plan — “Pride in the Past, Faith in the Future” — lists three initiatives that should be pursued first. They are supporting efforts to promote the downtown/waterfront areas; actions that are feasible, inexpensive and relatively easy to complete quickly and new opportunities to implement and pursue medium- and long-range ideas.
The 2030 plan was prepared to “articulate a vision for the community’s future and a road map for how to achieve that future,” reads the draft plan’s preface. The draft plan is organized around five major themes — downtown and the waterfront, economic development, community appearance, historic preservation and tourism, including eco-tourism.
Councilman Bobby Roberson, a former planning director for the city, said the city got its money’s worth with the draft plan.
“Any municipality needs to have a course of direction it needs to look at. I think the comprehensive plan provides that,” Roberson said. “It’s one of the things elected officials need to rely on when they are making preparations for zoning requests to be sure they are in compliance with the plan.”
Roberson said the draft plan, overall, is good.
“There are some things in there about open space. I am for open space, but I think we need to review that in terms of how the flood regulations apply to land-use control,” he said. “I think there are some good things in terms of what the central business district needs to look for. I think that’s something we need to sort of look at for the future. In addition to that, I think it has some good aspects as to where we need to direct our subdivision development to be sure we keep it out of the 100-year and 500-year floodplains.”
The draft plan lists five goals related to the downtown/waterfront area. They are:
• The character of Washington’s historic areas and city center will be protected and enhanced to preserve the city’s sense of place, promote economic strength and ensure the city’s continuing appeal to residents, visitors and business people.
• The core downtown area continues to serve as a center of commerce, culture and community, and it will increasingly generate revenues to ensure the economic stability and longevity of the city.
• The city will continue to capitalize on the Pamlico-Tar River as a community amenity for residents and visitors to enjoy.
• The redevelopment and revitalization of the waterfront will result in an engine of commerce for the city.
• The redevelopment and revitalization of the waterfront will consist of buildings and structures that set a highly appealing tone for the character of downtown and the waterfront.
To help meet those goals, the draft plan calls for setting up a formal security program to protect public infrastructure such as Festival Park and the waterfront promenade, increase public infrastructure to serve continuing events such as Saturday Market and concerts at Festival Park, increase the number of city-owned boat slips (with aggressive marketing and managing of those slips), create a waterfront master plan to guide redevelopment and revitalization of the waterfront and work with the Washington Harbor District Alliance to attract a hotel developer to the downtown/waterfront area.
In the summer of 2011, the Planning Board decided it wanted a “fresh” comprehensive plan. The city awarded a $30,000 contract to Clarion Associates, a Denver-based firm with an office in Chapel Hill, to produce the plan.
During a board meeting last summer, board members said they want an updated plan that’s actionable, not one that will sit on a shelf gathering dust because there’s no money to make it happen.
A comprehensive plan outlines what kinds of development are desired in the city and where those types of development should occur. It also addresses the issue of preserving and protecting historical and cultural buildings, sites and landmarks in the city.
For additional details contained in the draft plan, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.

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