During the third public input session on the site plan, which was held Monday, city council members voted to adopt it after seeing an updated version and hearing from residents.
The designers of the plan took into account comments from last week’s meeting and removed some of the commercial space included at the south end of the project and expanded the green area.
At the past two meetings, some residents expressed concern that the master plan did not include enough greenspace and contained too much commercial space, deviating from the plan presented before the bond referendum vote.
Other residents, however, said they believe deviating from the original preliminary plan is necessary and is why professional planners were hired.
One resident, David Bristol, said he is in favor of the plan as it was presented Monday and indicated that the greenspace is part of the entire vision for downtown and doesn’t necessarily have to be a certain size.
“You can’t have a project if you don’t kill some trees and plant them somewhere else,” he said.
“You can’t want a project like this and not have any traffic and no one living there,” he added, in response to other criticisms of the plan.
Though residential components to City Center have not yet been addressed by city council, the idea of apartments being included in the project has been a hot topic for citizens.
Though some, like resident and local business owner Larry Attig, say apartments should be considered in this plan, others are still against it.
Resident Kim Bailey said she is not against residential units in general, but believes the city has enough already.
Bailey took issue with the lack of greenspace in the plan, saying, “This has gone a long way, but I still don’t think it’s what we were promised.”
Council members approved the plan with a 6 – 1 vote, with Councilman Jim Gilvin voting against it. Gilvin also said he believed the plan had changed too much from the original concept.
Mayor David Belle Isle assured residents that they would have more opportunities to give their input on the downtown development plan.
“We want to have as much process open to the public as possible,” he said. “That’s why we had three opportunities just for the site plan. This is one step in a process.”
Belle Isle addressed the green space issue by saying the entire 26-acre space could just be dedicated to a park, “but I don’t think that’s what anyone wants.”
“Space can’t be enjoyed by the public unless the public is there,” he said.
The mayor said what he believes will bring the community together is a “successful and viable downtown — something we’ve never had in 154 years. But there’s a long way to go.”