City leaders are seeking input on the Downtown Huntsville Master Plan

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Last week, the City of Huntsville unveiled their master plan for the downtown area. Monday night, Councilman Bill Kling offered a chance for citizens to ask questions and learn more about the proposal.

The plan would change everything from the Rocket City's skyline, to sidewalks and parks.

Urban Planning Director Dennis Madsen compares the plan to a road map of the future.  He says, downtown will never look just like the schematics, but as public and private development plans start to come in, the city needs to be prepared.

“The important part is to recognize what change is coming, and how do we get in front of it," says Madsen.

The main objective of the plan is to make downtown more pedestrian and bike friendly. Some of those plans could happen in just a few months, like the proposal to add bike lanes to Spragins Street. Madsen says that will help connect the Veterans Memorial to Big Spring Park.

“You have this great sort of easy connection that we’ve already started resurfacing some of it so we can come back in after we’re finished resurfacing and just lay out some sort of protected bike route," he says.

A vast majority of the plan is slated for long term projects, like the dream to eventually replace City Hall.

“We want to make sure whatever we do, lasts a long time, the mayor used the term timeless," says Madsen.

The Master Plan suggests tearing down the Municipal Garage across the street from City Hall, building a new city complex in that footprint, then using the old annex property and eventually the current City Hall property for mixed use developments that back up to Big Spring Park.

“We’re going to take a good bit of time to make sure we’re dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s for a lack of a better term," says Madsen.

The plan also calls for demolishing part of the Monroe Street Garage to add retail developments near the Von Braun Center and Big Spring Park.

“You say, gosh it would be nice to go get a drink or go get a bite to eat, or something like that, and when you walk out the first thing you really see is that deck, the rest of downtown is really opaque," says Madsen.

All of it right now is just a dream sketched up by Urban Design Associates. They've been paid $150,000 to study research and try to predict the future.

“We want to tell folks, patience. Developments on both the public sector side and the private sector side take a lot of time," he says.

But as the Rocket City's population continues to skyrocket, city planners just want to make sure they have a downtown that can keep up.

“We really anticipate a lot of some of this growth will going to require private partners to come in and say, hey yea, we’re willing to build that, and that can have any kind of time frame," he says.

To see the updated Downtown Master Plan proposal for yourself, click here.