As new areas of College Station develop, existing areas age and commonly face shifting market pressures and opportunities. These changes can create new issues and needs that require attention. To help address these needs, the city’s Comprehensive Plan calls for the implementation of a series of small-area and master plans. These include plans for specific neighborhoods and districts as well as for specific infrastructure elements such as streets, sewer and water facilities and parks.
One of the oldest parts of College Station is the Eastgate area, a largely single-family neighborhood anchored by College Hills Elementary School and Thomas Park that includes aging commercial and multi-family properties along its perimeter. Some parts of the neighborhood were built well before the city incorporated more than 70 years ago. The Eastgate area was identified for a neighborhood plan to help address the dynamic market that results from its age and close proximity to Texas A&M and other community facilities.
The College Station City Council on Thursday unanimously approved the Eastgate Neighborhood Plan, which is the second neighborhood planning effort since the Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2009. The Central College Station Neighborhood Plan was adopted in 2010.
Neighborhood plans require an intensive citizen engagement effort, and participation by property owners and residents is essential. The planning process for the Eastgate Neighborhood Plan began last September with a kickoff meeting with neighborhood residents. Since then, several neighborhood meetings were conducted to gather information, identify issues and recognize potential opportunities. The input the city received in these meetings helped shape the plan, which was presented at open houses to receive feedback from area residents.
A vital component of the public involvement was the Neighborhood Resource Team. These 14 volunteer citizens met throughout the planning process, represented different geographic areas and interests of the neighborhood and were integral in weighing various options to mold the plan. The Neighborhood Resource Team is to be commended for its ability to set aside personal interests and provide direction for the benefit of the neighborhood as a whole. Some many not view the plan as entirely suited to their individual preferences, but it succeeds in representing the neighborhood’s cumulative interests and goals.
The Eastgate Neighborhood Plan encompasses five main components: community character, neighborhood integrity, mobility, sustainability, and implementation.
Community character evaluates existing land use compatibility and redevelopment opportunities. An example of a community character action includes amending the Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land and Character designation for the Pasler area from Urban to Neighborhood Conservation to help retain it as a single-family neighborhood. Another action evaluates and amends the single-family overlay district ordinance so that greater flexibility may be allowed for single-family areas seeking to initiate additional protections to address community character issues.
Neighborhood integrity outlines goals and actions for effective neighborhood organizations, preservation of neighborhood resources, identification of neighborhood image and investment opportunities, and targeted code and law enforcement services. Examples of neighborhood integrity action items include working with neighborhood organizations to create or strengthen homeowners associations, supporting community garden efforts and creating a speed limit awareness program to verify complaints and increase awareness of posted speed limits.
Mobility focuses on the city’s transportation network and identifies opportunities to improve mobility through streets, sidewalks, bicycle facilities and other transit methods. Examples of mobility items include the rehabilitation of portions of Puryear Drive, James Parkway, Nimitz Street and Gilbert Street, and the extension of Eisenhower Street. Future sidewalks also are planned to connect key destinations and major corridors such as Lincoln Avenue, Foster Avenue, Nunn Street and Puryear Drive.
Sustainability covers goals and actions to improve resource conservation and the environmental impacts of the built environment on the natural environment. Examples of sustainability actions include tracking participation in city programs such as recycling, utility rebates and developing training programs to increase awareness of sustainable practices.
Implementation is the most important component in achieving the plan’s goals, setting out the actions, timeframe for completion and the group responsible for each task. The estimated costs of various tasks are included, which have seldom been included in the city’s past planning documents. The plan will be evaluated annually to identify any necessary adjustments based on any changes that have occurred.
These descriptions provide just a glimpse of the almost 100 actions included in the Eastgate Neighborhood Plan. Click here to view the entire plan.
Senior Planner/Planning and Development Services