Trust the Torch!

The Square

Smart Growth recommendations for Woodstock presented Monday at City Council budget workshop

Woodstock’s Square is the city’s “most important unique asset” on which the community’s future identity should be modeled.That’s the assessment of Smart Growth America consultants, who will present their preliminary findings to the City Council during a budget workshop Monday afternoon.“The key to robust economic growth and sustained fiscal health,” they write, “it to recognize that the historic town center is not something merely to be preserved, but used as a template from which to grow new walkable neighborhoods.”The city on Friday released the consultants’ 15-page draft document of findings and recommendations – Planning for Economic and Fiscal Health – that resulted from their study of and visit to Woodstock. Their work is part of the $3 million prize package the city will get from having won T-Mobile’s nationwide Hometown Techover contest last summer.The document calls development around the Square “Our overreaching, general recommendation” for the city.More specific suggestions include:* Update the city’s comprehensive plan for growth and development, which is already underway.* Use one-time funds for projects in targeted sites that can be catalysts for growth. The city has $3.4 million available from federal pandemic-relief funds and $250,000 from T-Mobile.* Update the city’s downtown parking study to address issues involving a lack of parking, even if it’s only a problem of perception.* Invest in bike and pedestrian infrastructure and connectivity, which should be a factor in future street design.* Improve the city’s gateways to “create a sense of arrival” for visitors to Woodstock.* Help existing local businesses “to understand their needs and create a more conducive environment for them.”* Engage the community, especially segments outside the mainstream of civic life such as new residents, low-income households, and minorities.The budget workshop is a public meeting that will begin at 4 p.m. Monday, April 4, in council chambers at City Hall.

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Larry Lough

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