Both the city staff and planning consultants got their first big wave of feedback from residents Thursday night as city leaders revise Denton’s comprehensive plan.
In all, 157 residents signed in at the Center for the Visual Arts, where the city kicked off an 18-month process that will update the city’s first comprehensive plan.
Longtime resident Becky King participated in that first plan in 1999, which she followed in the year it took to come together.
“There was a lot of adjusting after the fact,” she said.
She came out again Thursday night, picking up the materials she needed to wend her way through six stations. City planners and consultants sought different kinds of feedback at each station.
One station sought people’s history and stories of living in Denton, which King said she found very interesting. She also liked the station that sought information on both the good things about living in Denton and the challenges.
However, she wondered about one of the comments left on a sticky note.
“It asked for ‘wider streets,’” King said. “You can’t do that with the streets that are already here.”
Lindsay Baker was 19 when the city drafted its first plan, so she didn’t participate. But this time she appreciates the community much more.
“I’ll never leave Denton,” Baker said. “I like it here.”
She came to tell the city it needs to do more with social media to tell people what’s happening around town. A friend of hers thought this was the first year of Twilight Tunes, she said, because she hadn’t heard about the free concerts before. This was the seventh year that downtown businesses sponsored the series on the Square.
Tim Stoltzfus also attended to put an idea on the board and because he said he will soon be moving to Denton. He is the managing owner of More Fun Comics and Games, which has stores in Lancaster and on the Denton Square.
The city needs a parking garage downtown sooner, rather than later, Stoltzfus said. He considers Fort Worth’s parking policy a better model for Denton to follow than the one operating in Dallas. Ample free parking, without the worry of being towed after a few hours, makes people feel welcome, he said.
Without more free parking, the blossoming businesses on the Square will shrink again, just like they have in various areas that have grown and then shrunk in Dallas, he said.
“We’re at a crossroads,” Stoltzfus said.
Council member Jim Engelbrecht said he’d hoped for more people at the open house but thought it was a good start, especially with the mix of age groups in attendance Thursday night.
He participated not only in 1999, but during another city plan in the mid-1980s. Over the years, he’s seen the value of residents’ feedback on city plans. Back in the 1980s, people were talking about saving the Square.
“We set the goal to save downtown,” Engelbrecht said. “The Square shows the best example of what this process is all about.”
The first thing the city did after that was change the zoning so that people could live in the upper floors of buildings on the Square, he said.
Residents can track their ideas as city planners type up all the feedback and begin researching and responding to it, according to city planner Abra Nusser.
The city set up a website, www.DentonPlan2030.com, to communicate with residents between forums and other public events.
The next forum has not been scheduled but is planned for this fall.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.