Work-In-Progress Presentation

 Over 100 residents, city staff and elected officials gathered at the El Paso Main Public Library Auditorium tonight, June 30, for the Plan El Paso ASARCO and TOD Neighborhoods Work-in-Progress presentation.  After a presentation the group reviewed the planning team’s draft designs for the four study area, and provided feedback to the City and the consultant team through keypad polling, written surveys, and informal conversations with the team following the presentation.

Victor Dover of Dover, Kohl & Partners opened the presentation, outlining the two-week-long public input process and explaining the feedback that the planning team had received from the community.  He presented the team’s draft “5 Big Ideas” that emerged during the process as guiding themes for the plan for the ASARCO site. These concepts were explored using numerous visuals, including watercolor renderings, two-dimensional plans, and change-over-time computer visualizations that highlighted key urban design concepts proposed by the community. As part of his presentation, Victor Dover also highlighted El Paso’s historic Downtown fabric, showcasing the opportunity for restoring existing, historic. and well-built buildings that are often the common link in successful areas across the country.

Jason King, project director for Dover-Kohl, followed Victor, highlighting the community’s vision and the design team’s proposed plans and illustrations of the three TOD sites around Remcon Circle, Five Points and the Oregon Corridor.

The team’s transportation planner Jacob Reiger spoke about the future plans for Bus Rapid Transit in El Paso and illustrated how smart streets that accommodate multiple modes of transit such as the car, as well as bikes, pedestrians, and mass transit opportunities, are the transportation elements that work to create special places. Looking at the project from an economic perspective was the team’s senior economic advisor, Ed Starkie, who, for the past two weeks has been doing in-depth market analysis on the study areas. While his research revealed certain market and policy constraints currently in place in El Paso that work to limit traditional town planning, Starkie followed up with several basic planning strategies that can encourage private development that are now underway with the City’s adoption of the SmartCode.

Throughout the presentation, attendees were asked to vote on key ideas of the plans through keypad polling. When asked broadly whether the smokestack should be preserved, 63% of participants initially responded yes; the support was reduced to just28% when the general costs of restoring and maintaining the stacks were revealed and the question was posed in context of the preservation becoming a taxpayer expense. At the end of the presentation, attendees were asked to answer the question “Do you feel the plan is generally on the right track?”  Of the attendees polled, 67% answered “yes” and 25% answered “probably yes,” for a total of 92% in general support of the work.

The consultant team will continue to work with residents and stakeholders in the City of El Paso in the coming months to refine and revise the draft Plans and will return for additional charrettes later in the year that will focus on updating the City’s Comprehensive Plan.  Updates and revisions will be posted on the Plan El Paso website.  Community members are encouraged to contact the City of El Paso Planning Department and Dover, Kohl & Partners with questions and comments about the plans.  Please check back on the Plan El Paso Avenue website for more information and details on future events.

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