Members of Pacific civic groups and city boards showed striking agreement on what they would like to see in the a new comprehensive plan that is currently in progress.
In a March 24 workshop at city hall, members of the park board, Industrial Development Authority, Pacific Partnership and Pacific Eagles participated in a discussion on comprehensive plan content.
They broke into four teams and worked through a series of questions posed by Todd Streiler, who is contracted by the city to craft the plan.
All four teams zeroed in on the need for better signs throughout the city.
Providing information on signs could help solve the problem of tractor-trailers on city streets not intended for heavy trucks and could direct visitors to areas of the city where goods and services are available, they said.
The problem of lost semis seems to start at the eastbound Interstate 44 ramp when over-the-road truckers pulling off the interstate for fuel or food don’t know which way to turn. Many drive across Osage and proceed on LaMar Parkway.
Others make their way to Pilot Truck Stop on Thornton Road, but face the same dilemma when they return to Osage on Viaduct Street, where they need to turn right or west in order to enter to return to I-44 east, but turn left instead toward the now closed Payne Street entrance.
The signs should be where truckers can see them before they make the wrong turn and should be large, one group suggested.
“A small sign that says no trucks may not catch the eye of a trucker who has never been here before,” said Jim Schwinkendorf, spokesman for Team 4, spreading his arms wide. “They need to be big.”
Good signs also could play a role in the city’s economy by directing motorists to downtown shopping, parks or dining.
Some motorists drive from East Osage all the way through Pacific toward Gray Summit and never know there is a downtown area two blocks south of First Street, one group pointed out.
Directional signs should be placed throughout the city and should be uniform in design so motorists know what they are looking for, group members said.
Another area of city planning that found agreement among the four groups was traffic snarls in certain areas of the city.
The worst traffic jam spots were identified as First and St. Louis streets, where motorists face a three-way stop and frequent waits for trains; Fourth Street and Denton Road, where truckers have to make two 90-degree turns to reach the industrial park; and Viaduct and West Osage, where truckers leaving Pilot Truck Stop have to make a wide turn to enter East Osage going east, but need to be in the left lane to avoid a required right turn onto Payne Street.
No suggestions were offered to alleviate the traffic problem, but all participants agreed that the traffic backups are real and hamper movement in the city.
A need to enhance the image of the city in key entry locations also was identified as needing improvement.
What people see when they first enter a city has a lot to do with whether they want to stay in that place, one group noted.
“We don’t know how to get property owners to upgrade their property and improve the appearance, but we know that we want it to happen,” said Christine Neal, the Team 2 spokesperson.
Participants called for mixed use zoning in Old Town Pacific by creating a historic district that would limit the types of businesses and even regulate hours that businesses would be required to stay open in order to foster a viable shopping district.
Retail at all levels, from women’s clothing and shoes, to bakeries and art galleries, plus more restaurants, also were identified as desirable.
The teams called for the city to put more resources in parks system, particularly completing bathrooms in Liberty Field, which was identified as a major need by three of the four teams.
Team 3 members said the city would show more progress if city hall would examine and discuss issues, make more timely decisions and move on.
“Too often, there is a lot of talk and no decision is made,” said Stephen Flannery, Team 3 spokesperson. “Other times, knee-jerk decisions are made and then people dig in their heels. If decisions are made up here in a timely manner, the town will grow.”
Family Rec Center
The teams agreed that a family recreation center would be a valuable asset to the city, but reached no consensus on where a center would best be located.
Possible sites were identified as the existing city pool and the Community School.
Following the discussion on the teams’ findings, Streiler said he plans to hold at least one more public meeting where the same process would be followed.
When the public participation part is completed, it will take him about two months to write the comprehensive plan.
“We’re probably looking at an early summer passage,” he said.