By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
Delray Beach wants to know what you want the city to look like when you are no longer a part of it.
For the next 18-24 months, the city will be soliciting input from as many folks as possible as it revamps the city’s comprehensive plan.
“We need everyone to be a part of this process,” Planning and Zoning Director Tim Stillings said to the crowd that filled the Crest Theatre during the community kick-off event.
The plan is a guide that city staff and officials should reference when setting policies, allocating money in the budget and looking at proposals for projects that want to come to town. It is the guiding document for the future of the city. Cities are required to have a comprehensive plan by law.
Delray officials adopted the city’s first comprehensive plan in 1989. Since then, the plan was evaluated in 2006, updated in 2008 and amended in 2009 and 2010.
Now, officials are looking to build upon the current plan with an eye toward the future with a total overhaul on the plan. The theme of the process is “Always Delray.”
“We have coined it Always Delray because we have always been uniquely Delray,” Stillings said. “We don’t want to be Boca. We don’t want to be Boynton. We are always Delray.”
To Mayor Cary Glickstein Always Delray is more than a saying to attach to the plan.
“Always Delray is more than a slogan,” he said. “It means to me always working together as we always have.”
Leading the effort is a steering committee made up of people appointed by commissioners. A consulting firm and city planners will lead the sessions with input from residents.
Steering committee members include: Nancy Schneider, Yvonne Odom, former mayor David Schmidt, Steve Mackey, Jim Chard, CRA chairman Reggie Cox, Tom Laudani, Joy Howell, Jeff Meiselman, Alene Egol, one-time commission candidate Chris Davey, Andy Katz and John Miller.
The committee will discuss the current elements in the plan and some new ones. Total there will be 15 elements discussed that fall under four categories of live, work, play and grow. The new topics are healthy community, historic preservation, education, economic development and sustainability and resiliency.
The topics under live are transportation and mobility, housing, historic preservation and healthy community. Under work, education, intergovernmental coordination and economic development. Under play, coastal management, conservation and open space and recreation. Under grow, public facilities, future land use, sustainability and public school facilities.
Planning officials said the challenge is: be able to create a plan that will allow people in 20 years and even longer to say wow, look what we did and not I can’t believe we didn’t do something.
All topics will be discussed and a plan will be made for all of them. At the end the plan will be split into a policy guide, an analysis of data and an executive summary.
After the topics and committee were introduced, city planner Mark Stivers led an interactive discussion with the audience. He asked questions that could be answered through a website on a smart phone.
The results from the questions indicated most people in the crowd lived east of Interstate-95, own their homes and are middle aged. Out of a list of things people liked to do shopping and eating downtown ranked first, followed by events and then the beach. The No. 1 issue for people in the audience was change in the community’s character.
At the end residents had time to ask questions about the process, discuss what topics are important to them and address concerns.
One resident wanted to see more emphasis on the beach and another wanted sober homes to have its own topic. Another concern raised was that no millennials are on the steering committee and questioned how the city plans on engaging the next generation of the city. Another concern revolved around how the city staff plan on ensuring opinions of all are heard and not just a vocal minority.
The next scheduled workshop will take place from 5:45 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 3 at the Delray Golf Club.
For more information, visit http://www.alwaysdelray.com.
By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor