'Vision' meeting eyes mobility, design, entryways


Rebecca Leonard of Design Workshop in Austin points out design examples at last week’s meeting at the Hill Country University Center. — Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke

With a little help from its friends, Fredericksburg can improve walkways, entrances and overall design, citizens learned last Wednesday, May 28 at a Vision Workshop at the Hill Country University Center.

Billed as a “comprehensive plan issues update,” City of Fredericksburg’s Director of Development Brian Jordan said the meeting would focus on three main areas.

“We’re going to focus on hike and bike trails and sidewalks, the gateways into our town and overall design standards,” Jordan told the crowd of about 100 people.

Jordan introduced Rebecca Leonard of Design Workshop in Austin, a consulting firm that has assisted hundreds of cities around the nation with upgrading their looks and offerings.

“We’re going to be focusing on retaining the character of Fredericksburg and the quality of life for residents and business owners,” Leonard said.

She said the town’s key challenges, from a design standpoint, include pedestrian connectivity (or lack thereof), that the town’s entry points do not reflect the desired character and can detract from the visitor experience, and that there are obstacles to bike and pedestrian traffic.

“There are currently zero miles of trails, but we hope to have 14, as is a goal of the city’s existing comprehensive plan,” Leonard said. “As far as sidewalks, there are currently 10 miles, but we will determine how much will be our target.”

Leonard also said that walking and/or bike trails along Barons Creek or Town Creek also are possibilities the firm and city are looking into.

“The benefits of a trail system include reduced traffic, an increase in environmental sustainability with the use of more bikes, and that property values increase in areas adjacent to ‘greenways’,” she said, referring to green areas or parks.

Leonard led the crowd through polls using key pads with which viewers gave opinions on slides shown on a screen. She polled them on slides showing trails, sidewalks, gateways, building design and landscaping.

She also polled the crowd on which entranceways were considered the most important to town, with results showing most believe the U.S. Highway 290 East entrance into town gives visitors their first impression. She added that entryway challenges included older businesses with short setbacks off the highway.

“Design standards” can include the materials, architecture, signage and landscaping used in new and existing buildings.

Newly elected Mayor Linda Langerhans asked the crowd about how much cost played a factor. Most said it was very important or somewhat important.

“Of course, we will balance the desires with the funding available,” Leonard said. “Costs will be evaluated. And we know all this can’t happen overnight. We also will look for ways to partner with other entities, such as the Texas Department of Transportation.”

Attendees included members of the city council, planning and zoning board, the board of adjustments, as well as members of citizens’ advisory and technical advisory committees.

Design Workshop also is working with River City Engineering, a civil engineering firm, and Holtkamp Planning.

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