Meeting offers hands-on glance at master plan




Tuesday's fourth public meeting concerning the development of a master plan for downtown Garden City provided attendees an opportunity for some hands-on activity while discussing preferences for the look and feel of the downtown area.

Using what was essentially an interactive PowerPoint presentation, city planners provided the audience with about 30 remote control-style TV clickers that allowed them to choose between a few options while discussing a variety of categories, including the general character of downtown, shopping, dining, indoor versus outdoor entertainment, structured versus unstructured recreation, gateway signs, types of residential uses and parking.

The "votes" were recorded by computer and then displayed on a monitor.

Roberto Becerril, city planner, said the results of the polls will help narrow and refine issues for the next public meeting, currently scheduled for May 7.

When it came to the general character of downtown and the types of shopping available, the majority favored a combination of a more conservative "historic" approach and a more colorful, pedestrian friendly "contemporary" approach.

Most favored casual dining over formal kinds of restaurant options, or a combination of both. Likewise, the majority favored a combination approach to indoor or outdoor entertainment venues, and structured or flexible recreation facilities.

The insta-polls also showed people favored monumental or medium-sized gateway entry signs to the downtown area, free parking or a combination of free and fee-based parking, and a parking structure or combination of a parking structure and the traditional parking lots.

One of the categories Tuesday asked whether people preferred apartments or townhomes/row homes. Townhomes or a combination were preferred, but one person asked how the city could enforce what type of home is built.

Becerril said basically the master plan would be used as a guide. As an example, he said a developer interested in developing some property could look at the master plan and see the type of housing the community indicated it wanted in the downtown area, or how the community expected that area to develop.

Kaleb Kentner, community planning director, said the process would be strictly market driven.

"If the market isn't there, and they don't want it, it's their property. They can do with it what they want," he said. "Everything would be market driven."

Another person, concerning indoor or outdoor entertainment venues, indicated it was difficult to make a choice because he could see some things offering both, like an indoor restaurant that also had an outdoor seating area.

Kentner said city staff intends to take the information gathered Tuesday and narrow it down by the May 7 meeting to go into more depth.

"Now that we have preferences from the public, we're going to drill down a little farther and see what it means to you. That's where we want more input about what your expectations are," he said. "That's why we want your input. We're going to narrow these things down as we go."

Planning staff said they welcome questions or ideas between now and the May 7 meeting to help them narrow down the topics for discussion. They urged people to provide examples of things they have seen or liked so they can be brought up next time for input.

The master plan is intended to guide improvements or enhancements that will help attract more business and general activity to downtown. Additional public meetings will be scheduled as needed. Eventually, a proposed plan will be submitted to the planning commission and the city commission.

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