By Jackie Stone
Killeen Daily Herald
LAMPASAS - About 20 people involved in city planning and development met Wednesday night to toss around ideas for a wish list of things Lampasas needs to look at and do as it moves forward.
Members of city staff, the council, the Lampasas Economic Development Corporation and the Planning and Zoning Commission were invited to the "visioning meeting." Those who attended threw out ideas that were then commented on and voted on by other members. The most popular ideas will be given to the council to consider as members discuss the upcoming budget.
Kicking off the meeting, Mayor Judith Hetherly said Lampasas was at a juncture - "but I don't know if it's a crossroads or a Y" - and it was important for those who work in city planning to talk on equal footing about where the city is headed.
"We're just about ready to start our budget process, so what you say here will weigh heavy," she said.
The goal that garnered the most votes at the end of the night was a broad statement that Lampasas
commit itself more to economic development and bring in more businesses.
Several attendees said that might entail having the city work harder to get infrastructure and properties ready ahead of time for businesses that might be interested in coming to town, a task that also linked into other suggestions about developing a comprehensive city plan and identifying areas for growth.
"I don't think we can wait to build new sewer lines until the developer comes in, because they'll move on," council member John Cole said.
LEDC coordinator Cherry Hargrove said about readying retail space, "Give me something to market."
Hargrove also suggested working on incentives for retail businesses as well as industrial development, whether through tax abatements or extending utility lines.
"They're just looking for something that will take some of the start-up costs off them," she said.
Many attendees also voted that the most important thing for the city would be to develop a "thoroughfare plan" for extending and improving roads around town, followed closely by votes for developing a "comprehensive plan" that would include roads as well as city services, economic development, the water system, land use and more.
Planning and Zoning Commission member William McLean suggested that before the city can move forward, it needs to decide what its focus will be and what identity it wants.
For instance, he said, do city officials and residents want to focus on the historic downtown and being a tourist attraction, or on drawing businesses to major thoroughfares like Key Avenue and U.S. Highway 190?
"The city has to be focused toward something, rather than like we're doing now - a little here, a little there - and that's a hard political sell," he said.
Other visions that were discussed at the meeting included improving the streetscape along Key Avenue, cleaning up the parks and developing a workbook to help potential small business owners understand city policies.
Neal Leavell, a former EDC member and local dentist, moderated the meeting and encouraged the audience to throw out anything on their minds.
"We're brainstorming, not writing checks," he said. "This is a Christmas list."
Contact Jackie Stone at
email@example.com or (254) 501-7474. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcoveeditor.