The East Alabama Planning and Development Commission is helping the city compile the plan, which involves an in-depth look into issues such as land use, zoning and economic development. The findings will be placed into an official document by February 2015 that details strategies for city officials over the next 20 years.
“It basically gives a framework for what the city wants to do,” said Ryan Kallem, Principal Regional Planner from the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission.
Kallem presented an economic analysis at the meeting, which had an attendance of more than 15. The analysis contained statistics about the city’s income, education, employment and poverty levels. One trend noted was an increase in the poverty level from 2000 to 2010.
“We are really just speculating right now,” Kallem said. “We can’t say anything for sure until we have all the data.”
Kallem also shared the results from 19 community values questionnaires that are available on the city’s website. The purpose of these surveys is for citizens to voice both the positive and negative aspects of the community. Kallem cites the town square as a major concern.
“The town square is the heart of the community,” Kallem said. “The square is a great opportunity but also a major threat if not properly handled.”
Kallem said opportunities for the city include building more sidewalks that lead to downtown as well as bringing more businesses onto the square. However, he noted that the heavier traffic flow could lead to safety and parking issues.
The economy report is the first of a series of reports that will be drawn up over the next three years. The next comprehensive plan report will be presented at the Jacksonville Planning Commission meeting on August 20.
“We will look at all aspects of the community,” said city planner Lynn Causey. “We’ve only just begun.”