PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Fri, 2016-12-02 05:00 News Staff
City holds public meeting on Transportation Master plan
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Approximately 35 residents, city employees and elected officials gathered at the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation meeting room on Wednesday afternoon for the second public meeting regarding the development of the city’s transportation master plan along with an update of the city’s comprehensive plan.
Chris Stewart with K. Friese & Associates, Inc. engineering firm and Alex Flores with LAN Engineering Firm, who provided information at the first public meeting in August, also presented at Wednesday’s meeting.
K. Friese & Associates is in the process of updating the comprehensive plan, with LAN setting out to develop the city’s Transportation Master Plan.
The meeting also served as a workshop for the Copperas Cove city council, of which a quorum was present, to include mayor Frank Seffrood and councilmen Dan Yancey, George Duncan and Matthew Russell.
Stewart and Flores tag-teamed the presentation, which included giving the results of the survey conducted this fall.
The last time the city’s comprehensive plan was updated was in 2007, with some goals accomplished and others still not attained but are recommended to stay on the updated plan. The comprehensive plan looks at population changes, demographics, and where the growth inside the city is taking place as well as outside in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction.
Stewart gave an update from the last time he and Flores met with city representatives.
“On October 24, we came down with a team of economic development specialists and we held a retreat for key people in the city who are working with the city for economic development issues, the EDC, the industrial foundation, and the City,” Stewart said. “We did a daylong retreat where we looked at data, we looked at the various economic development projects in the field and how they were performing, and what some of the struggles were.”
Locally, Stewart said the local population is continuing to grow, but leveling off, and there is also a decline in persons per household, at 2.7. During the work week, 7,500 residents travel from Copperas Cove to another community to work, while 2,400 live and work within Copperas Cove.
The daylong retreat information also discussed sales tax revenue in the city of Copperas Cove in 2015. Stewart said they focused on sales tax revenue because that’s an indicator of people spending money and economic activity. He said looking at the numbers, Copperas Cove is at the bottom of the ranking in a list of comparable cities, as far as sales tax revenue per capita.
“It doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily in trouble, its something we’d like to change. We’d like to see more retail opportunities in Copperas Cove and we think over time we can get this number to come back up.”
Revenue wise, the recent passage of liquor sales in the city will also provide more opportunity for entertainment, Stewart said.
Stewart said there is also the “perception” there are not enough rooftops in Copperas Cove, but that judging by the continued housing growth of new properties, that isn’t necessarily the case.
Where the city’s strengths are concerned, Copperas Cove has had “significant and effective” improvement in infrastructure over the last 10 years, Stewart said. Another plus is that the city has a large supply of commercial and industrial land that is ready to go.
Flores, whose focus is on transportation and the streets of Copperas Cove, shared the results of a city wide survey that was conducted, with 230 responders.
“When it comes to asking ourselves what the city wants in terms of transportation, no one knows better than the people themselves,” he said, adding that they received very good responses from the survey.
The survey asked residents to rank six areas in order of importance.
Road safety and traffic congestion were the top two areas of importance followed by, infrastructure maintenance, sidewalk connectivity, environmental impact, and last, transit availability.
“Overwhelmingly, the city said road safety is their number one concern,” Flores said. “That’s what this plan is going to represent. The number-one thing in the plan it to improve improve safety, and traffic number two.”
One outcome of the survey that surprised Flores was that survey-takers were “overwhelmingly happy” with the level of traffic, that more are happy than unhappy. People were also happy with safety.
A major area of concern is sidewalk connectivity.
“People are overwhelmingly not happy with how the sidewalks connect in this city,” said Flores. We want to improve that.”
Flores said the Avenue D sidewalk project is one area where the city is beginning to work on improving sidewalks. Both Stewart and Flores spoke of the downtown area of Copperas Cove being ready for revitalization.
The projected population growth for Copperas Cove puts the population around 50,000 by the year 2040, so both the comprehensive plan and transportation master plan will be used to help the city accommodate the population growth and transportation needs in the future.
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