Community presented draft of citys comprehensive plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 26, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; A small group of community members gathered in Rooster Hall to hear the first draft of the comprehensive plan for the city.

Larry Watts, planning consultant, lead the meeting, which is the third of its kind since the project began.

The proposed plan centers around a preservation of the historic downtown area coupled with a revitalization of the neighborhoods east of downtown.

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One of the projects included in this effort is taking the properties owned by the city east of Commissioners Avenue and turning the area from the Civic Center to the City Landing into a large city park.

Furthermore, the boat launching sites which are now located in the curve of Childers Street will be relocated to the north end of the landing so all the sites will be located in one area.

Watts also said it is important to balance both the public and private involvement in the long-term plan. He said some of the projects would be perfect for the city to undertake with public funds. For long term planning, however, he said it is important to leverage public projects with private investments.

A major component of the plan, in addition to areas of growth around Gaineswood and Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial, is the idea of the City of Demopolis as a destination for people to come to, either for healthcare or other amenities. Watts said it would be important to take advantage of qualities the city already possesses, such as access to the riverfront and a strong local arts sector, to continue its growth and entice people to come to the city.

For those who live in Demopolis already, Watts explained neighborhoods should be set up so that schools, shopping and parks should all be located in proximity of one another.

One way to accommodate this model is by making provisions for a mixed-use zoning area to accommodate both residential and commercial development, Watts said.

For the next steps in the comprehensive plan, Watts is scheduled to present this to the Planning Commission on Oct. 9. The commission will then hold several work sessions to discuss the plan and decide on the next public hearing for some time in November.