PILOT POINT — The momentum generated from a visit by a team of city planning experts to Pilot Point is moving forward and has led city volunteers to establish a new center on the downtown square.
Officials said the center — known as Volunteer Station — will act as a gathering place for residents to volunteer for jobs around the city and to keep interest in redevelopment efforts moving forward.
The building, which used to be a gas station, was saved from being converted into a car dealership and sits along a main thoroughfare through downtown, said resident Joyce Duesman.
“The building is small, quaint and has a great yard with trees and tables and faces at a slant,” she said. “It would have been covered with gravel to become parking for the used cars.”
The center will have its grand opening at 6 p.m. today at 301 S. Washington St.
Last year, the city received a grant to obtain professional help from city planning experts who had knowledge of land use, building restoration, architecture, infrastructure and economic development.
In February, the experts visited Pilot Point and spent a weekend touring the city, interviewing residents and city officials, and studying the city’s strengths and weaknesses.
Pilot Point officials named their project for development the Plan for Living and Community Excellence.
Duesman serves as the project’s steering committee chairwoman and said most of the reignited passion for redeveloping the city stemmed from the visit by the experts.
Todd Scott, a preservation architect and leader of the visiting team, said his team developed its report based on the needs of community stakeholders and residents.
The suggestions presented to city leaders have resulted in them working on a new comprehensive plan and a vision statement.
City Manager Tom Adams said he was excited to have the report from the team, but even more excited about the public involvement.
He said the issues presented by the team were not new but the public involvement generated was.
The visit also reignited the Friends of the Square, an organization that focuses on downtown development.
“The Friends of the Square never went away, but they weren’t as active like they used to be,” Duesman said.
Initially, Volunteer Station will be open three to four days a week.
Volunteers are leasing the building through donations they’ve received from residents and businesses.
“We’ve raised about $5,000,” Duesman said. “And we have a lot of generous donations that will help us leading into next year.”
The center will come furnished and with free wireless Internet donated by Speed of Light Broadband.
“The center is in downtown, but we want it to serve the entire city,” Duesman said. “It will be available to use free of charge for meeting space for any committee or group that is working on projects that will be volunteer in nature and aimed to improve the community.”
The grand opening will be from 6 to 8 p.m., and Duesman said there will be refreshments and a speaker who will talk about the importance of volunteerism.
“Things are happening very quickly,” she said. “I hope the domino effect continues.”
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.