After four budget sessions setting aside $25,000 each year to craft a new city comprehensive plan detailing best practices for future growth and development, the city says it is ready to contract a professional for the job.
Citizen input will be the key element in looking for ways to use the planning process to influence the future, according to planner Todd Streiler, who wants to do the job.
Members of the Saturday morning breakfast group at the Pacific McDonald’s said they liked the idea of a new plan for the city. They said there is much that could be put into a plan to make Pacific a better place to live.
“I think we absolutely need a plan,” said former librarian Sue Reed. “A plan helps you to control spending by looking at all the things you need to spend on at the same time.”
Other patrons agreed that looking at the entire city for places that need improvement would be a good way to improve citizens’ lives.
These citizens discussed what they would like to see included in a plan.
“I’m all for a new comprehensive plan if it will get us to do something about sidewalks on North Thornton Road,” Ann Roddy said. “I drive there every day and I see kids walking in the street. They jump in the gutters when a vehicle comes because there are no sidewalks.”
Roddy illustrated her point by writing on a napkin. She drew Thornton Road from Viaduct Street to the turn onto Orr Street. She drew a short dash on the north side of Thornton.
“Right there, there is one little section where there is a sidewalk,” Roddy said. “Other than that there are no sidewalks.”
Retired U.S. Marine Minnis C. Mullins Jr., who lives in the Hawthorne subdivision, also talked about safety in Pacific neighborhoods.
“We’re a community of neighborhoods,” Mullins said. “We have subdivisions where kids play in the streets and cars are whizzing through. We need to make our neighborhoods places where kids can play and stay active.”
Focus on Youth
After an hour of discussion, approximtely 20 people agreed on one element. The master plan must have a special focus for young people, according to Shirley Goeke.
“We don’t want all our young people to move away,” Goeke said. “There is no theater. We need recreation, ways to keep them happy.”
What this community needs more than anything else is a community center, youth center or teen town, said Ann Lavely, who lives in Eagles View Subdivision.
“If they are not involved in organized sports, there isn’t a place where kids can just hang out,” she said.
If a comprehensive plan does nothing more than focus on what is in Pacific now, it can make a difference, Dean Lavely said.
There are traffic problems that a comprehensive plan could solve, Lavely said.
“I see the trucks pull out of Pilot, heading west, and they turn onto Hogan Road, instead of the I-44 ramp and then they have to back up,” he said. “I think good planning could solve that. Maybe it’s just a matter that we need better signs.”
A city plan should create zoning districts and buffers that separate the houses from the factories, said one woman, who asked not to be identified.
“Where we live, we used to look out our kitchen window and see deer and turkey,” she said. “When the industrial went in they were supposed to put up trees to screen the view but they didn’t. Now all we see is factory equipment.”
Mary Mullins agreed, saying, “You don’t want a big business in your backyard. We need to keep businesses away from the homes.”
Any comprehensive plan should pay close attention to the areas in the flood zone, Rose Kyle said.
“After the last flood some people took the buyout, but some of us stayed,” Kyle said. “We have all these cleanup, fix up signs, but some people aren’t doing ahything. People should realize that we have to live there and clean things up to make it more presentable.
“I want a new comprehensive plan if it is implemented after we get it,” she added. “And I want it to have a section on how to treat the floodplain.”
A master plan that impacts the future has to go beyond zoning and come up with ways to bring in new business, according to Sue Long.
“We need more industry and more jobs,” Long said. “I know everybody keeps saying that, but you can’t take it for granted. It should be in a plan.”
Long also suggested that the plan could develop a strategy to return to the small retail stores of the past. She said when she first moved to Pacific there were all kinds of stores here.
“We had Vi’s Dresses and P.N Hirsch,” she said. “We had a Western Auto.”
“We need to do something to get motorists to look at St. Louis Street in downtown,” Roddy said. “We have stores there, but people driving on First Street may not know it.”
The lack of retail is the biggest problem the community has, according to BJ Lawrence, who believes the city doesn’t work with retailers.
“If a retailer is late paying their taxes, the city turns the water off so they can’t stay in business,” Lawrence said. “We should do what we can to help people. The city needs to be a more inviting place.”
Dee Cronin said while looking at zoning and land use, the plan needs to look at the kinds of services that people need.
“People won’t move here if we don’t have facilities for them,” Cronin said.
Creating a new comprehesive plan is the right thing to do, according to Ann Lavely.
“We need someone to come in here and do that,” she said. “We need a theater and recreation for our young people to keep them happy. Maybe we need someone to tell us how we can do that.”