Yogi Berra, the major league baseball catcher known for his witty and astute observations, once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
A community also needs to know where it’s going.
That’s the purpose of a comprehensive plan, put in place to set a town’s policies and priorities regarding its future development while seeking to preserve its environmental features and individual character. Centreville – aptly named because of its central Alabama location – is getting guidance from a design team helping to create its comprehensive plan. A plan supported by the ideas behind DesignAlabama’s DesignPlace program.
Says DesignAlabama Executive Director Gina Clifford: “Centreville was the first community to be a part of a partnership between Keys to the City, Place Associates, DesignAlabama and Kelly Landscape Architects that offered an integrated model of the DesignPlace program with a starter comprehensive plan.”
Montevallo-based Keys to the City provides services to communities in strategic planning and community development coaching. Hollie Cost is one of their coaches. “We’re looking at identifying people in the community and find out what their priorities are,” says Cost, who points to several of Centreville’s assets, one being its location on the biologically diverse Cahaba River.
Along with its riverfront, assets also include a flourishing medical center, its history and general layout, as well as its historic Uptown District that consists of late 19th century and early 20th century buildings including the 1902 Bibb County Courthouse. The design team is looking at different ways to enhance the Uptown District, such as increasing its amenities and greenspace, and attracting more businesses.
Ben Wieseman of Place Associates, a multi-disciplinary firm specializing in planning, landscape architecture and real estate development, serves as lead facilitator of the Centreville design team. In their report, the team has provided nine “immediate actions” to help Centreville implement its comprehensive plan. One that Wieseman sees as a priority is to identify the key sites and opportunities to help various projects succeed. And develop the tools necessary to engage the stakeholders, share ideas, develop visions and implement project goals.
Among the priorities identified in the plan: create a city park along the Cahaba River; develop the Uptown District with the help of the Main Street program; address housing needs; develop gateway, wayfinding and image corridors; and increase leadership and economic development. The plan also addresses the city’s green infrastructure, enlarging its park and recreation system, and adding a wetland boardwalk.
Centreville has experienced little revitalization activity over the years, which gives the town added opportunities, observes Herman Lehman, who also serves as a community coach with Keys to the City. Linking its major assets – historic town square, first-rate medical facilities, and sited on the Cahaba River – are key to the comprehensive plan.
“It’s exciting,” Lehman says. “There’s a lot to look forward to in Centreville and there’s a lot of community support.”
*Article Written by Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of DesignAlabama