COMMENTARY, MOSTLY ABOUT PFLUGERVILLE

About Old Town Pflugerville Vision
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The City of Pflugerville has recently been holding a series of meetings with public participation and help from consultants regarding future development in the Old Town area. Many of the most relevant links to the City of Pflugerville website are listed in the Readings section below. The purpose of the meetings is set forth in the first two entries. Further discussion follows the Readings section.
The Old Town Pflugerville Vision Draft Report and its December 15th presentation were open for public comment from December 18 until December 29. (Note that the deadline has been changed to January 21.) See the City of Pflugerville Press Release for more information.

Added Note The public comments that have been received are available online here.

Added Note, January 6, 2009: The period for receiving public comment about the Pflugerville Old Town Vision Draft Report has been extended to January 21, 2009, 5:00 pm.
Readings:

Pflugerville Old Town Vision

Overview, Old Town Pflugerville: Project Purpose

Key Issues from Old Town Pflugerville Stakeholder Interviews

Results: Old Town Stakeholder Forums Prioritization of Issues for Discussion

Agenda and Presentation: Old Town Vision, November 5, 2008

Handout: From Values to Vision -- and on to Action

Agenda: City-Wide Forum for Old Town Pflugerville Vision

Draft Vision Statement

Old Town Pflugerville Vision Draft Report

Pflugerville Old Town Vision -- Scheduled Events
An Old Town vision statement prepared for the City of Pearland, Texas, is shown as an example of such a statement on page 5 in the November 5, 2008, presentation website (above).

It is worthy of note that smart growth concepts were promoted at a 2008 Action Summit held in Pearland on January 7, 2008, under the auspices of the Public Forum Institute. There was some support obtained from this summit for urging the State of Texas "to develop a Smart Growth Development Plan." The Smart Growth section of the summit report can be found in the pages numbered 8 through 10.
Many rapidly growing suburbs do not have a dense, well-defined downtown and yet are prosperous. In Pflugerville, the area that is regarded as downtown has none of the major retail outlets in the city. The question that should then be asked is whether it is really worth the considerable effort and expense to try to do the kind of makeover that some consider necessary.
The Old Town Pflugerville Vision Draft Report (and its presentation) were on the agenda for review and discussion at the joint work session meeting of the City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission on December 15, 2008. The consultants for the vision project were on hand to present the report and respond to questions. There was a very brief discussion about the fact that a low percentage of Pflugerville residents living outside of Old Town attended any the the vision forums. One of the questions that was asked called for an estimate of the size of the central business district required for fulfilling the role set out for Old Town in the vision report.

A real bone of contention that lurks behind discussions about Old Town has to do with the proposed building of a bridge across Gilleland Creek to allow for an an extension of Main Street to the east through the Pfluger Tract for vehicular traffic. There is some support for building the bridge based upon connectivity arguments. But there is much opposition based upon possible environmental effects, adverse impacts upon some nearby property owners, and the not inconsiderable expense. Many say the bridge is just not needed. A pedestrian bridge would appear to be much less controversial.

At the December 15 session, the City Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission were advised that the eventual appearance of rail transit in Pflugerville was essentially inevitable. If such a transit line were to follow the MoKan right of way, then a transit oriented development might be built in the downtown area.

To read about what is being considered in Round Rock, see "All Aboard? Round Rock Mulls Rail Line" by Ben Wear, Austin American-Statesman, January 6, 2009.

It seems timely that an opinion article entitled "Let's Make Sure That All That Infrastructure Spending Is Well Supported" by Joel Kotkin appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on December 17. In this article it is claimed that many rail transit systems carry a tiny percentage of commuters. One might wonder whether rail transit through Pflugerville would turn out to be a big waste of infrastructure funds. The Kotkin article can be accessed under a different title at this Washington Post website. A related question and answer session with Joel Kotkin is available here.

For a local outlook about the prospects of rail transit, see the online materials provided by the Austin-based Coalition on Sustainable Transportation. In particular, see Jim Skaggs' Transportation Comments.

The word "vibrant" is included prominently in the Draft Old Town Vision Statement. It is a word much used by planners in recent times. Perhaps its use can be traced back to the writings of Jane Jacobs. See, for example, the discussion about "vibrant streets" in "Class: The Unmentionable Topic."
There was an article entitled "Old Town Draft Report Public on City Website" by Kristen McLaughlin in the December 25, 2008, edition of The Pflugerville Pflag.
An update for the Old Town Pflugerville Vision project was presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission in the January 5, 2009, meeting. This update included evaluations of the degrees of consensus reached thus far on the issues examined in the Vision process.
Also see "Old Town Revitalization."
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