Downtown goals set at meeting tonightBy Larry Blaskey
Downtowns throughout the country have experienced a decline in popularity, and Douglas is no different.
With more retail businesses being opened on Pan American and Fifth Street area, some customers are being steered away from a still economically important and vital Douglas Downtown.
To reverse the pattern, a Downtown Revitalization Planning Workshop is scheduled for today, Thursday, March 26, at the old Phelps Dodge Building, 1021 G Avenue, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
The event is being hosted by the City of Douglas Department of Community Development in conjunction with the University of Arizona College of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Planning.
Downtown businesses and property owners are encouraged to attend and participate.
The two-hour meeting will include a review of the plan, voting to prioritize topics, working in groups to discuss revitalization strategies, group presentations and developing an action plan.
According to the executive summary of the project: “The revitalization of downtown has the potential to significantly enhance economic development and the quality of live in Douglas, and therefore has been deemed a priority by City of Douglas staff. The Downtown Douglas Revitalization Plan begins with an inventory of the existing characteristics of the local and regional setting; and it then outlines goals, objectives and strategies for downtown revitalization. The plan also identifies organizational approaches, and funding resources for implementation of the plan.
“The goals of the plan are presented in three categories: Economic Revitalization, Connectivity and Heritage. These categories were developed to encompass the key components of creating a vital downtown: residential and commercial investment; pedestrian friendly, easily accessible, inviting public spaces; and an emphasis on the history, cultural attractions and unique regional setting around which a distinct downtown identity then can be crafted.
“The Economic Revitalization section focuses on strategies top promote economic development downtown, with an emphasis on the development of a vital local business community as well as potential housing and mixed-use projects …This section also presents a variety of approaches to regulate parking downtown as an increasing number of people are drawn there; many of these recommendations were informed by comments from current Douglas residents and business owners. Finally, the plan acknowledges the need for the creation of public space downtown and describes the several plans for civic plaza…
“The strategies outlined in the Connectivity section promote pedestrian, bicycle and automobile access to and within downtown through enhanced signage and transportation infrastructure of the current informal pedestrian path that leads from the border with Mexico to downtown is recommended…This section also addresses the improvement and maintenance of streetscape elements in order to create inviting, walkable downtown public spaces. An inviting streetscape encourages people to visit downtown not only for retail opportunities, but also for recreational or leisure activities. Streetscape design includes safety improvements, beatification, additional public facilities, such as restrooms and suggestions for environmentally sustainable design elements.
“The History and Tourism section focuses on developing and enhancing tourist attractions to draw people to Douglas…Strategies for promoting history and tourism in Douglas include instructions for developing a program to preserve and interpret historic attractions…Describes the process for developing tourism partnerships and opportunities for advertising Downtown Douglas as a destination.
“Downtown Douglas contains many assets that represent significant potential for revitalization of the downtown area into an economically vital, pedestrian-focused, unique public space. The goals in this plan have been developed with careful attention to Douglas’ unique setting and circumstances, and given hard work and involvement of all of the stakeholders, are realistically achievable. The resources most essential to revitalizing Downtown Douglas already exists: an active local government and a committed, core group of citizens who are striving to make their community a better place to live.”