By The Public Communications Office
In this episode of “What’s Up, College Station?” Marketing Coordinator Grace Hallowell and Long Range Planning Administrator Alyssa Halle-Schramm discuss the ongoing Wellborn District Plan update and upcoming public input opportunities.
What’s up College Station? I’m Grace Hallowell, and today I’m joined with Alyssa Halle-Schramm, our long range planning administrator. Hi Alyssa.
Hi, Grace. How are you?
I’m doing well. We had Matthew on a few episodes ago to talk about the Texas and University update, and you’re here to tell us an update on the Wellborn District plan.
Yes, you’re right. We’ve been working on two small area plans. They’re very different in scope. So Matthew’s was a redevelopment plan, and then the Wellborn plan is actually an update from a plan that we had about a decade ago. So the Wellborn area was annexed into the city in 2011. And then on the heels of that, there was a plan that was adopted in 2013 to do some specific projects and actions within that area.
That plan had a 10-year horizon. So in 2023 we’re at the 10-year mark. So we’ve been working to update it over the course of the last really eight months or so.
Yes. And College Station is a very different city in 2023 versus 2013. So what are some updates to the plan that have been made?
Yeah, so you’re right. College Station definitely has changed a lot in that decade. One of the things really that we’ve been hearing from the Wellborn community is a desire to really remain rural and remain very similar to the roots of the historic Wellborn community. So it traditionally was a railroad hub, way back before College Station existed anyway, in any shape that is today.
So the Wellborn area has that railroad, railroad community feel, and then also has the old Wellborn grocery store, the post office, the Wellborn Community Center, some really kind of civic oriented uses down in that area. So we’ve heard from residents in the area that they really like it being rural. They like that rural character.
They like being able to see open fields and horses and kind of more pasture lands while also understanding that there needs to be, or there will be some amount of growth. It just needs to be really in appropriate areas and at a much smaller scale than we’re seeing in the rest of the city.
Right. Yes, there’s a big difference from Wellborn versus right here in the heart of College Station where City Hall is. So yes, keeping that rule is I think a good thing.
Yes. And from a planning lens as well, it makes more sense to put more people near your major employers and Texas A&M being our largest employer in the region, and then also obviously a large university and college students go into it, and all the support staff and faculty who work there. We are looking at much more housing density around the campus core and around the city hall area where we are today.
But then looking at, we transitioned to more suburban in the middle parts of town, and then of course more rural on the edges. So Wellborn being on the south edge of town, it definitely makes sense for it to maintain its rural character.
What are some of the more minute details of the plan?
So within every small area plan, we have goal statements. So that’s really the vision of what the community would like to see over the next 10 years. And then really the heart of the plan is the actions. So there are a myriad of different action items in this plan. A couple of them are to make changes on our maps, and so that will change how land is used in the future, what types of roads will exist, what the widths are, how many lanes they have, where they will be, we call that our thoroughfare plan.
And then also some changes to our bicycle and pedestrian plans. There’ll be some map changes that impact, it’s not just lines on a map by any means. It actually gets implemented through development. So sometimes those are city projects, city roads we build or upgrade or do maintenance on. And then sometimes they’re development driven.
So if a new subdivision comes in, they may have to put in a new road themselves, and we’re able to kind of help drive what that road looks like by having it on these planning documents. So it’s setting up that longer range vision for how the community is going to grow and change. Some of the specific actions also include looking at the railroad crossings in that area. So you’ve got South Dowling Drive and Butte Drive that both cross the railroad right now looking at safety, looking if there’s different alternatives of how those crossings occur.
And this is where planning then starts to touch our capital improvement program, and they’re the folks who actually project managing the construction projects that the city does. So we work in tandem with them. We’ve been looking at traffic safety in the corridor as well. So we heard a lot of concerns from residents about Victoria Road making lefts and rights onto Wellborn Road from Victoria and a few other key intersections where there were some traffic issues as well. So we’re taking all that in.
The actions of the plan really reflect what the changes that the city will be doing over the next 10 years to increase safety, protect the quality of life, and then also involves working with our partners. So the railroad of course is Union Pacific, and then TexDOT, Texas Department of Transportation maintains Wellborn Road. So one of the things we’ve heard that’s been a bit more controversial is the Wellborn Road widening project.
So there’ve definitely been concerns we’ve heard from residents about what does that look like? Will there be medians? Where are the medians? How do they access some of the businesses that they frequent today? So we’ve been working with our counterparts at TexDOT as well to see if we can find options or alternatives that also work for the community.
Yes, there is so much that goes into a plan like this that if you’re not familiar, you might just think it happens sort of overnight or you pick and choose, but there are so many different little facets that you have to think about that you guys do a great job at exploring all possibilities of what could happen and what should happen.
Thanks. And kind of peeling the curtain back, if you will. Yeah, we go out, when we were approaching a small area plan, we go out, we get that broad-based public feedback, and then city staff and the planning department, we take that back. But then we also talk to staff in all other departments.
So we’ve been talking to our community services team about housing affordability and our economic development team from a small business perspective and our capital improvement team on roads and construction projects in the area. So it really touches all departments in the city. And then we end up also, as I mentioned, organizing and collaborating with our state partners like Texas A&M in some cases, or definitely TxDOT in this case. So there are a lot of different entities that are involved in a small area play on.
And then of course, we’re touching back with the community at multiple points to see if the changes made reflect what they wanted to see in the first place. So that is actually what’s up next. We’ve got August 30th, so next Wednesday is our final area wide meeting. That’ll be at Wellborn Middle School down on Royder Road. And that will be an opportunity for the community to see the final plan, the actions that are coming out of those.
So again, actions are the very specific things that the city is going to implement or work toward implementing over the next 10 years. And then also all the final maps. So where different uses will be, what the road network looks like, what the bicycle and pedestrian networks look like as well.
So once we do that area wide meeting next Wednesday, then it’ll be on to, well, we’ll make some tweaks if we hear that they’re needed from the residents and community. But then from there we’ll be onto the plan adoption process. So that will go for a couple of different boards and commissions and then ultimately to city council for their consideration on October 12th.
Yes, I definitely encourage if you live in these areas, come to this meeting, it’s very informative to learn about the potential of where you live and what it’s going to be like in the future. If anybody has questions or would like more information about the plan, where can they find out more?
Absolutely. They can go to the plan project website. It’s cstx.gov/Wellborn.
There anything else you’d like to share with us today?
No, I think that’s it.
All right. Well thank you so much.
Alyssa Halle-Schramm: Yeah, thank you for having me. Appreciate it.
Grace Hallowell: And that’s what’s up.
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