The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 6, 2014

Beckley closer to being a city with a plan

Comprehensive plan’s first reading will be at Tuesday council meeting

BECKLEY — Beckley Common Council members are reviewing the Comprehensive Plan, a 10-year plan that will help shape the city’s future.

This plan is available for public review at www.planbeckley.com, and a first reading of the plan will be at the next council meeting, at 7:30 p.m. April 8.

A Poggemeyer Design consultant will be present to answer questions.

The Register-Herald has taken a closer look at several topics in the plan over the past few weeks, and this week, two final topics will be reviewed — financing and implementation.

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No matter how simple or grandiose the city’s Comprehensive Plan may be, none of it can come to be without financing and a plan for implementation.

In the finance section of the plan, state programs are discussed that can assist with water and wastewater improvements, recycling, youth and families, community development, roadways and business expansion.

The city will become a CDBG Entitlement Community this year, and will receive an entitlement each year from HUD to improve the city’s housing.

With the Metropolitan Planning Organization designation, the city will have access to funding for transportation projects.

The city also hopes to annex the doughnut holes into the corporate limits, which could potentially generate additional revenue through business and occupation taxes.

Grants, foundations and private sources of funds may also help the city finance Comprehensive Plan efforts.

Poggemeyer Design consultant Randy Mielnik said the implementation chapter “is the most critical chapter in the whole plan,” as it focuses on how the ideas will become a reality.

First, the administrative and regulatory capacity must be developed to implement the plan — a planning/community development department. This department would serve as an umbrella organization for all the existing community development-related activities, secure grants, review zoning changes, create partnerships and administer funding.

Second, jobs must be created for economic investment in Beckley. The plan suggests eliminating problems associated with confusing corporate boundaries, encouraging build-out of the East Beckley Employment Center at the Woodlands Pinecrest Business and Technology Park and continuing to improve collaboration with Raleigh County.

Third, the plan encourages the development of New River Park to provide residents and visitors with exceptional recreational opportunities.

Fourth, a multi-modal transportation system must be developed with attention to pedestrian systems. Efforts must be focused on the MPO, problem intersections, completion of the East Beckley Bypass, development of the sidewalk system and enhancement of the existing rail trail.

The fifth area focuses on development and redevelopment of downtown, New River Drive and Pikeview Drive, and the sixth area focuses on environmental protection and development of rain gardens.

The final three areas of implementation are creating and maintaining strong neighborhoods, creating and preserving Beckley history and providing outstanding public services.

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

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