Almost 140 people attended the Downtown Master Plan Open House on Wednesday, March 10th, hosted by Urban Development Director Nikki Howard and consultants from Ochsner Hare & Hare. Local business SeneGence opened their event center on Dewey again for the event.
OHH Director and Owner Ken Boone described the DMP as “very complex and layered” and that they hope City staff, members of the Stakeholder Committee and Bond Oversight Committee, and Sapulpa residents “find we that we listened.”
Boone said they broke down the overall plan into “critical layers,” including Economic Development and Redevelopment, Land Use, Urban Design, Aesthetics, Street Life, Parking, Transportation, Architecture, and Alleyways. There were a multitude of maps, graphics, designs, and artists’ renderings on display around the room explaining each piece of the plan.
The Stakeholder Committee arrived an hour before the public to give their final round of comments, and then it was open for public view and comments for two more hours.
Priorities listed by Boone were Dewey (“it’s critical to downtown”) and whether or not ODOT and the City can come to an agreement to reroute highway traffic so it can be narrowed for easier pedestrian use, the opportunities involved in expanding the downtown core north to include Hobson, parking, and utilizing alleys for public use. “Downtown isn’t just one street. Let’s make it a robust downtown, with several blocks, so people can go in every direction.” Additionally, there are significant enhancements that can be made and many development and redevelopment opportunities. “A lot of your ideas are part of our recommendations,” Boone said.
OHH Planner Taylor Plummer spoke about what’s next, and said that “implementation is the last part of the plan. The question is, ‘How do we make [these ideas] real?’” The best approach is to make “early, visible wins” that “show people Downtown is changing, improving, and building momentum,” she said. Examples include a gateway over the entrance to Downtown at Main and Dewey, a total streetscape overhaul, certain buildings being repurposed, outdoor dining options, and public art installations. Plummer said that these things can be started right away, whereas, of course, other pieces will take much longer.
“Our implementation part of the plan is not written yet. We want to make sure that all our recommendations are right before we submit those to you,” in May or June, Plummer said.
Plummer and Boone said that beginning Thursday, March 11th, the entire draft plan will be available on the project website, downtownsapulpaplan.com. They said that the plan will be available and open for comments for two weeks and that they encourage as many people to do so as possible. Plummer emphasized that this will be the last time OHH asks for “major comments” on the plan before they complete their final version. “This is your plan,” the consultants said, and, ultimately, it is up to Sapulpans to make sure our voices and ideas are heard.