Presentations & News

Ennis Daily News - 1st Aug, 2015

Planners say Kaufman Street, Lake Bardwell are big ideas

All great plans should have one or two big ideas that go out-side the box

Francois de Kockthinks all great plansshould have one or twobig ideas that go outsidethe box and promptdrastic changes. The project direct with Halff AssociatesInc. said as much Thursday night when he and his associate, Jay Narayana,went before the city’s Comprehensive Plan Action Committeeto provide an update on the city’s comprehensive master plan.

The two presented what Halff Associates came up with in the four months after the public input and visioning session, which happened in January, and they feel the ideas they developed are a direct result of what the people said they want.

A land use plan was the main feature of the meeting, in which portions of the city as well as its extraterritorial jurisdiction, were color-coded to show what Halff believes the city should do with its land. The map showed suggestions for residential,commercial, business park, industrial and open-space park areas, many of which are underdeveloped or undeveloped at this time.

The two “big ideas,”though, as de Kock called them were revitalization of the Kaufman Street corridor and the expansion of Ennis westward toward Lake Bardwell, ideas that got some people excited at the meeting.

Lola Searcy, city commissioner of the ward where much of the Kaufman Street corridor is located, said she agrees wholeheartedly with Halff ’s vision for the area.

“I’m 150 percent in favor of it,” she said. “It’s been neglected far too long, and that’s exactly what that part of the city needs.”

When it came to that area of the town, Narayana explained that the area could be trendy or even “funky” if the city played its cards right, especially because much of that area is a blank slate due to dilapidation and the years of neglect Searcy mentioned.

The suggestions for the area were to decrease the number of lanes in the area, add on-street parking and give the area an urban design, where artists could live and trendy culinary options could be made available.

The Lake Bardwell changes suggested were perhaps the most drastic, though, as that area of the city, which is currently almost completely undeveloped, could become a destination for everyone in the city, according to de Kock.

“Lake Bardwell is a beautiful aspect of the city that is being underutilized,” he said. “It can be a destination for recreation and for residential.”

The draft of the land use plan that de Kock presented showed just that. A “lake ring road” was shown around the lake, where de Kock said folks could go on a Sunday drive and enjoy nature. Trails were also a major point for the Lake Bardwell area – trails where people could cycle or run around the lake and trails connecting the lake to the city.

Portions of the land use around the lake are designated for residential neighborhoods and multi-use areas, as well.

De Kock added that closing off the lake is something to avoid when developing the area.

The idea of singleload roads, where only one side of the road is developed, and the other side – which backs up to the lake – remains undeveloped to give people clear view of the lake.

The plan is still being worked for a final draft, which will be released in the coming months, but there are still a couple steps to take before the plan is unveiled.

When asked for his feedback, Mayor Russell Thomas explained he likes a fresh set of eyes on the city’s plans.

“For a lot of us, these are things we’ve been talking about for a long time,” he said. “I like what you (Halff) are doing. I think it’s more modern than the previous work we’ve done, and I think that’s important.”