Residents weigh in on One Decatur long range plan

DECATUR, Ala. - For the last 14 months, a consultant, Planning Next, has worked closely with a steering committee of River City residents to determine what needs to be prioritized for the city's growth.

Tuesday, residents finally got to see a rough draft of the One Decatur comprehensive plan.

More than 200 people applied to be part of that committee, and the city had to narrow it to 40. They held multiple Listen & Learn meetings to rack up input, all of which went into what was presented on Tuesday.

"This was time to update our long-range plan for the city, and one of the things we felt was important was public involvement," said city planner Karen Smith.

"We asked residents of Decatur to come tonight and help us understand what's important to them," said committee co-chair Stratton Orr.

Smith emphasizes that the city needs buy-in from citizens. Attendees were able to place stickers by issues and action plans that they felt were most important.

"This document will help guide the budgeting process for the city and help us decide where our priorities need to be," said Smith.

The plan is all-inclusive, listing steps to make various city aspects better.

"One thing that came out our and clear was the riverfront, more access to the river, more interaction with the river," said Orr. "It's our defining natural resource."

Other things were also made apparent through the months of meetings, including many quality of life improvements.

"Making our streets look better and move faster but also, can we ride a bike across the Beltline," said Smith. "Another thing we're really pumped about is downtown."

She went on to explain the excitement around the pending reopening of Mellow Mushroom and the construction of Cross-Eyed Owl, a micro brewery coming to the area.

Residents can still participate in future meetings or contact One Decatur on their website or their Facebook page.

As the steering committee and consultant continue to collect and analyze input, the plan will be adjusted and a final draft will be presented to city council early next year.