JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown City Council has approved a plan that will help chart the course for future development in the downtown area of the city, but it wasn’t unanimous.
During Monday’s city council meeting, lawmakers voted 8 to 1 in favor of adopting the city’s Urban Design Plan 2.0 – put together by the consulting firm Goody Clancy with oversight from the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation (JRC).
Funding for the new plan came from City of Jamestown, New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative and the Gebbie Foundation.
The guiding themes of our new plan focusing on four areas:
- Continue the renewal of the Chadakoin Riverfront;
- Make downtown more walkable and better connected;
- Expand on the programs and events that draw people downtown, and;
- Recognizing the potential of a growing a Health and Wellness medical corridor in the areas of Foote Avenue and Harrison and Institute Street.
The plan was more than a year in the making with community input sessions taking place in 2018, along with a roll-out and approval by the City Planning Commission earlier this year. The plan was also presented to the city council’s Public Safety Committee and full council in March and two public hearings on it were held in April to allow for final input before being adopted this month by the council.
However, despite the numerous opportunities offer input and also learn details about the plan, city councilman Andrew Liuzzo (R-At Large) voiced his concern about the plan, saying prior to the vote that he didn’t feel enough was done to seek input from the residents and businesses that might be impacted by any future development, specifically in the medical corridor, that stems from recommendations with the plan. As a result, he voted against adopting the document.
Following the meeting Liuzzo reiterated his thoughts to WRFA.
“I’m pretty sure that people on Maple Street and Arnold Street and Institute Street – that whole area – I’m pretty sure that they didn’t have any input on this,” Liuzzo explained. “I think that if you are going to plan Urban Planning, yeah, you can have your meeting and you can call for a public hearing but you see how well they [are attended]… You really have to walk the neighborhoods and ask, ‘This is what our plan is. How do you feel about that?’ That’s why in good conscious I voted ‘no.'”
JRC Executive director Peter Miraglia was in attendance during Monday’s meeting and afterward he spoke with us in response to Liuzzo’s concerns about a lack of effort in reaching out to residents and businesses.
“We did have two public hearings after the planning commission and the Public Safety Committee reviewed it. Yes, I would love to have the time to go door-to-door to talk with everyone about it. I don’t want to make excuses but it would have been impracticable at that time. We did get a pretty good input at the start of the process and we did have smaller groups during the public hearing but they did provide input. And my office is always open for anyone who has questions,” Miraglia said.
Both Miraglia and Mayor Sam Teresi also remind the public that the Urban Design Plan is designed to be a general vision and recommendation on the focus of future development efforts in the city, including making recommendations, but it is not intended to be a specific action plan. Any recommended projects that do move forward will still have to be discussed by the council and other stakeholders and will likely have opportunities for the public to weigh in on them prior to any permitting or funding applications that may take place.
The plan can be viewed at the JRC’s website.