The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 14, 2013

Workshops to focus on solutions for Beckley

Citizens get a chance to be heard at focus groups

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

— The public is invited to a Tuesday through Friday series of workshops for the City of Beckley’s Comprehensive Plan to focus on downtown, New River Park, transportation and neighborhoods.

Poggemeyer Design Group, the city’s comprehensive plan consultant, heard input from residents, community leaders and business owners Sept. 19 about the challenges Beckley faces, but these focused workshops aim to provide solutions to those challenges.

Steering Committee Chairwoman Ann Worley said these intense focus groups will give Beckley citizens an opportunity to individually be heard in a small group setting.

“Don’t be afraid to come out and present your ideas, visions and concerns,” Worley said. “We need and want your input.”

Representatives from Poggemeyer, Land Use I USA and Land Design Studios will facilitate the workshops, which will all be held at the UC-Beckley John W. Eye Conference Center.

The downtown workshop will be held Tuesday starting at 1 p.m. and will focus on downtown districts, pedestrian connectors between UC-Beckley and downtown, upper floor utilization, development opportunities, maximizing the Beckley Intermodal Gateway project, parking issues, design regulations and creating a downtown image.

Dan Bickey, owner of McBee’s Irish Pub, said he is asking everyone to come out and voice their opinions about the downtown area during this meeting.

“I’m trying to help downtown,” Bickey said. “I’m hoping we have a really good turnout to support uptown. It’s the biggest opportunity we’ve had in a long time with the buildings that have burned down on the corner of Neville and Heber.”

He said he is encouraging the city to purchase a piece of property from John Mize in an effort to create a green space, as well as a place for a statue of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

The New River Park workshop will be held Wednesday at 1 p.m. and will address recreational opportunities and creating a greater tourism draw.

Discussion topics will include motorized and non-motorized access to and through the area, potential complimentary land uses and activities, marketing and branding, development of adjacent land, infrastructure improvements and signage.

The transportation workshop will be held Thursday at 1 p.m. Public transit, expansion of the bike trail, expansion of the sidewalk system and cross-town connectors will be a few of the issues that will be discussed.

The final workshop will be held Friday at 9 a.m. and will focus on neighborhoods.

A host of issues, such as land uses, new construction, neighborhood themes, demolition, neighborhood gardens, parking lots, storm drainage, law enforcement and more will be discussed.

“In great cities, spaces as well as places are designed and built; walking, witnessing and being in public are as much a part of the design and purpose as being inside to eat, sleep, make shoes or make music,” Worley said. “The citizen has to do with cities and the ideal city is organized around citizenship — around participation in public life.”

Residents, property owners, business owners and the community in general are being asked to attend one or more of these sessions to help shape the future of the city of Beckley.

Worley also noted that these workshops will be casual and informal, so feel free to join any session at any time to share thoughts and ideas.

For more information, visit www.planbeckley. com

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com