The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 12, 2013

Beckley officials start work on plan

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

BECKLEY — Over the next 11 months, the framework for the City of Beckley for the next 10 years will be established through a comprehensive plan update.   

“This will be used as a visioning tool, a tool for planning,” said Mayor Emmett Pugh at Thursday’s comprehensive plan update kickoff meeting.

“This is a great way to move the city forward.”

Councilwoman Ann Worley chaired a committee to select a company to assist with the comprehensive plan; Poggemeyer Design Group was selected and the contract was approved Tuesday by Common Council.

Two consultants from Poggemeyer, Charlene Kerr Piper and Randy Mielnik, met with over a dozen Beckley officials, business leaders and organizational representatives to get organized and review the planning process.

Worley said Poggemeyer assisted Beckley with its previous comprehensive plan back in 2001 and she is excited not only because they have experience with the city, but also because the group is bringing some new ideas to the table.

“It’s like coming home,” Kerr Piper said. “It’s great to be back.”

She said the plan will especially emphasize land use and Poggemeyer will have an economic/retail analyst to evaluate the area.

“We need to base the plan on economics, such as housing, business, industries, etc. and then compare it to the state, the region and even the nation.”

The plan will also focus on housing and transportation issues.

Additionally, infrastructure, development areas, financing issues, historic preservation, and much more will be addressed.

Since the last time Kerr Piper was in Beckley, she said many franchise operations have moved in, which is great, but she said the city may want to now focus on specialty shops and the arts.

The plan will be tailored to the wants and needs of the community and will rely heavily upon community meetings, public surveys and feedback.

“The more public involvement, the more engagement from the residents the better,” Mielnik said.

Kerr Piper said the plan has the potential to build a better sense of community and character, create cost effective development, implement innovative land use techniques and initiate conservation efforts.

The group will also select a project logo, which could possibly include the Tamarack logo or the New River Gorge Bridge, to brand the new 10-year plan.

Kerr Piper asked the group, “How do you identify Beckley?”

She asked that the group be brainstorming ideas for the logo, as well as the project as a whole.

The next meeting will be held at the beginning of June to review data and prepare for public engagement efforts.

Community meetings are tentatively scheduled for the end of August and the final phases of the comprehensive plan creation will be carried out through March 2014.

Councilwoman Worley added, “The finished project will be acted upon like the last one. We will take small steps, but hopefully in 10 years, we can get a lot done.”

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