The consultant and design team commenced in February 2010 by studying the area to become familiar with existing conditions and the opportunities and challenges. The District formed an Advisory Committee to provide input to the consultant team. An initial Stakeholders Meeting was held February 23, 2011 at Advent Lutheran Church at which a preliminary Vision Statement and “Big Ideas” was presented for input and feedback.
Highlights of these public meetings and workshops including preliminary sketches by the consultant team have been posted on the District website for all community members to see. The consultant team met with the Advisory Committee in July to present the draft plan and seek comments. The team has taken those comments, finalized the plan and will presented it to the community in November 2011.
A three-day, charrette-style workshop was conducted April 26-28, 2011 at the Advent Lutheran Church at which more than 500 people attended. The Public Open House Workshops were promoted via 4000 postcards mailed to businesses and residents, more than 2000 flyers distributed to homeowners, ads in The Leader, articles in the GIP e-newsletter and a story on KUHF. The offices of elected officials representing the Near Northwest Management District were also invited.
On the first day, April 26, community input was solicited in an “open house” where the public could “drop-in” any time at their convenience. Attendees were asked to identify with dots on maps where they live/work, traffic and pedestrian “hot spots”, and most/least favorite places in the Study Area. A Community Vision Survey allowed participants to help evaluate and select images to help guide the creation of the concept plan.
The second day of the workshop consisted of work sessions to translate community input from the open house into the plan. The third day of the workshop involved refining the vision and design concepts followed by a presentation where the public was invited to see how the conceptual plan was shaping up. This format made it easy for the public to follow the evolution of their input, the vision and concept plan.
Community Vision Survey
A visually-based Community Vision Survey was used to gain public input on the “look and feel” of bayous, greenways, streetscape, public spaces and transit facilities. The Survey was conducted during the April 26 Public Open House Workshop and results have been incorporated into the concept plan.
The survey arranged images in a series of four per topic to present a range of choices for possible future visions. Presented to small groups, participants were given a chance to view each set of images and then select the image they felt would be “most appropriate” for the Study Area or select “none” if they felt that no image fit their vision. Scores were recorded on individual score sheets and afterward, select images were re-presented for follow-up discussions. A summary of these findings follows on this and the next few pages.
The existing images of the Study Area were either not selected or generated a very low response as being an appropriate vision. In short, participants voted for change across each category in the survey and want to see the Study Area transformed.
The images displayed at middle and bottom left were the highest rated open space images in the survey. Participants indicated that they want to see a diversity of spaces ranging from passive greens to enticing water features to hard paved plazas. Discussions were very precise with participants noting that these spaces need shade, not too much concrete, places to sit, open spaces for kids and changes in elevation to add interest to the flat environment. The design character of trails and other improvements did generate some interesting discussions and highlighted some differences among survey participants. While some liked a more rustic character for trail improvements, others preferred something a bit sleek and contemporary.
The images on the middle and bottom represent the type of improvement desired for the Antoine streetscape. Street trees that provide for shade for pedestrians was a critical element of preferred streetscapes. Participants want to see safer, wider sidewalks, pedestrian-scale lampposts and touches of greenery that add interest for pedestrians and motorists. Participants clearly stated that they want more opportunities to walk in safety, with some protection from the sun and to destinations with activities that are currently missing or non-existent.
The preferred architectural character for Antoine generated a wider range of discussion, but almost all participants agreed that any change was an improvement. Follow-up discussions touched on subjects ranging from the challenges of public funding to the evolving dynamics of the existing market for retail and multi-family residential.
While participants had positive comments to make about Aron Ledet Park, they embraced the idea that this public space could become even better if there were storefronts and other uses that related to the park. Participants were intrigued by the concept of creating new parks and public spaces with fountains to pick up on the “water theme” and having active uses integrated at the edges for comfort, safety and convenience of park users.
The survey presented sets of images to test the design and setting of transit facilities (bus shelters). Participants had a very clear preference for transit facilities that were more than just a typical shelter isolated at the edge of a road. In follow-up discussions, participants focused on how the seating and attention to design details made the transit facility feel much more attractive, safe, inviting and dignified. Placing the transit stop in a lively mixeduse public space with day and evening activities received the highest response for what participants want to see in the plan.