Public participation is being encouraged as the City of Fayetteville and The Walker Collaborative kick-off the city’s Downtown Master Plan Thursday evening by hosting a meeting at the Municipal Building Auditorium.

“Just like the branding initiative, the BMA [Board of Mayor and Aldermen] and the city staff are excited to be a part of the contributive process of the Downtown Master Plan,” said Mayor Michael Whisenant last week. “We look forward to sharing our ideas and vision along with the citizens of Fayetteville for the future of our downtown area, not just the town square.”

The meeting will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 18, officials said, noting that it has three objectives – explanation of the project process and goals, identification by participants of the challenges and opportunities for downtown Fayetteville, and identification by participants of other model downtowns.

In May, the Fayetteville Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to hire The Walker Collaborative (TWC), a Nashville-based firm, at a cost of $74,307 to develop a master plan for the city. Funded out of city tourism dollars, the plan will likely emphasize downtown revitalization and historic preservation, much like many of the other cities for which the firm has developed plans.

Among the many cities that the city is working with in developing plans are Natchez, Miss., Russellville, Ark., Wetumpka, Ala., Hopkinsville, Ky., Beaufort, S.C., Natchitoches, La., Tryon, N.C., Oxford, Miss., Little Rock, Ark., and in Tennessee, Murfreesboro, Clarksville and Lewisburg.

TWC will be assisted by three sub-consulting firms, each having expertise closely aligned with downtown Fayetteville’s specific planning issues. Those firms will include Common Ground Urban Design + Planning, Ragan-Smith Associates, and Randall Gross/Development Economics.

A four-step process is planned, beginning with Thursday’s project kick-off meeting and research. That segment will also include a study area tour, physical conditions assessment, economic and market analysis, a public policy and programs assessment, and stakeholder focus group meetings.

The second portion of the process will include a “charrette”, an intensive process in which people work together over a limited period of time to develop creative ideas for solving problems and a concept plan.

The third phase will center on developing a draft master plan, including a physical improvement strategy, public policy strategy and a plan for implementation.

The process culminates in the fourth step following the city’s review and feedback, and this phase will see the draft plan presented to the public. Based on review by the city and input from the presentation, the plan will be revised and submitted to the city as a final document.

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