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Pilot Point, UTA hashing out deal

Profile image for By John D. Harden / Staff Writer
By John D. Harden / Staff Writer

PILOT POINT — The city of Pilot Point is finishing an agreement with the University of Texas at Arlington to develop a comprehensive master plan that officials hope will be completed by December.

According to city officials, the city has had similar plans created in the past, but the plan that UTA will create will be updated and tailored to Pilot Point based on studies completed earlier this year.

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, members approved a budget amendment to pay for UTA’s services.

The study will cost $12,000, plus any expenditure related to extra meetings for public involvement, according to a city staff report.

City Manager Tom Adams said the city has approved the agreement, but officials hope to finalize the contract within a week or two.

The work will be completed by UTA’s Institute of Urban Studies, which works with clients throughout Texas to help develop solutions to urban and rural challenges like economic development and master planning, said Brian Guenzel, director of the institute.

The work will be done by a team of four graduate students and two professional city planners from the university.

The institute was established 1967 and has assisted several Texas cities, including Arlington, Burleson, Celina, Benbroook, Fairview, Fort Worth, Kaufman and DeSoto.

“This is a professional service,” Guenzel said. “This is a job for us and the students, not a class.”

In February, a team of city planning experts from the American Institute of Architects visited the city for about a week and identified weaknesses, strengths and strategies the city could use to plan and manage growth.

One of the team members recommended that the city invest in developing a master plan because successful cities have clear visions for growth.

He added that cities without a well-defined vision usually struggle with finding an identity.

Mayor Pete Hollar said developing a comprehensive plan is a priority for the city.

Guenzel said the work conducted by UTA will be more comprehensive than the work done by the American Institute of Architects.

He said the institute would take the work performed by the team of planners this year and take it a few steps further by investing more time into the city and doing more research.

He expects that the project will take about four months.

Guenzel said it’s a little early to guess what challenges the city faces or to determine the city’s strengths. He said those are things that will be developed when the study begins.

However, he said he expects to see common themes many cities — large and small — are struggling to manage.

He said cities across the state are trying to address a rapidly growing older population and the urbanization of rural communities.

“Most of the time when a city or its residents say they want to be urbanized, it doesn’t mean that they want to be to a big city, they just want some of the conveniences of a bigger city,” Guenzel said. “It’s a very interesting adaption that city planners everywhere are having to address.”

City zoning and land uses usually are a challenge for cities looking to grow because sometimes they are behind the times, Guenzel said.

“We’re here to help cities update,” he said. “And we’re here to help the cities plan as far down the road as possible.”

JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.