Committee kicks off redevelopment planning|Members hope to win over ‘it’s just another study’ critics

Published 6:02 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

Staff Writer

Washington’s Committee for Revitalization kicked off its latest planning effort for the downtown with a presentation from Scot Lagueux of LandDesign, the firm hired to draft the plan.
Among the topics of discussion are ways to counter critics of the plan.
Tom Miller, a board member of Downtown Washington on the Waterfront, said critics have been hostile in forums such as the Daily News’ “Sound Off” call-in feature.
“They’ve been brutal,” he said.
Lagueux recommended a highly open process to invite community input.
Tom Atkins, of the Board of Realtors, suggested the group promote the economic development ramifications of the plan.
Tom Richter, a board member of the Committee of 100, said this process would have assets prior studies lacked.
“It is long on what was missing in WKD (a prior study), which is a vision and reinvestment strategy,” he said.
Lagueux also outlined future steps in the process.
On July 16, the consulting firm will hold meetings during the day with specific people and groups likely to impact the process. It will also have a public meeting for input from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Washington Civic Center.
From Aug. 8 to 10, the group will hold a longer workshop to help solidify plans. There will be other meetings later in the process.
The ultimate goal, Lagueux said, isn’t an exact blueprint, but rather a general direction forward.
“This may not be exactly the way it’s built, but it certainly makes a statement,” he said.
Miller said the plan, which will likely take more than 10 years to implement, should include some steps that can be taken right away.
“If we don’t do things to attract people into the downtown, when this bridge (on the U.S. Highway 17 Bypass) is opened, downtown is going to die,” he said.