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Waller Creek panel to preview master plans for parks, open space

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 by Kimberly Reeves

The Waller Creek Citizens Advisory Committee will be the first stop for two major downtown planning documents – a conceptual plan for Waller Creek and a downtown park and open space master plan – before they go for public input at town hall meetings in October.

Urban Officer Jim Robertson and senior planner Tonya Swartzendruber updated the citizen’s advisory committee last week on the progress on both master plans. Swartzendruber said ROMA, as part of the downtown master plan, was working on a revised concept plan for downtown parks and open space.

Draft documents will wind their way through commissions before town hall meetings. The two documents were intended to move in tandem, with the intention is to set an Oct. 3 date for the parks and open space master plan and a date of Oct. 24 for the Waller Creek master plan.

Robertson briefly recapped the process and goals of the downtown parks and open space plan, discussing the different types of parks and open space downtown. The open space plan is, in essence, a chapter of the downtown master plan, Robertson said, noting that the issues around downtown open space are more the quality and management of the space rather than the quantity of parks and open space.

Some parks are underutilized. Others are utilized but not effectively. And, in the case of Waller Creek, the issue comes down to how well the space is maintained. Robertson noted Waller Creek was both public space and a pathway.

The open space plan also will tackle public space, such as the public garden in front of 101 Congress or the plaza in front of the Bill Hobby office building at 3rd and Guadalupe.

“The question really is, how do these spaces function?” Robertson asked.

The parks plan also will look at reprogramming space, such as working to redevelop Waterloo Park as a more flexible venue and possibly taking Palm Park and reworking it. Robertson said Palm Park once drew east and west together, before it was bisected by the construction of Interstate 35.

“It still has possibilities,” Robertson said. “Given its distance to the Convention Center, it might also serve as an attraction or destination for that facility.”

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