LYNCHBURG, Va. – City leaders in Lynchburg are getting close to finalizing plans for the downtown area. They're calling for public input about the changes people want to see in the next 20 years.
In a Powerpoint presentation, people who attended a meeting about the Downtown 2040 Plan, Thursday night at the Craddock Terry Hotel, saw how Main Street in Lynchburg currently looks. In other slides they were shown what Main Street could look like in 20 years. As the presentation went on, there were pictures of the Fifth Street Bridge, and changes that could be made to it. Another slide had a trolley,similar to ones in San Francisco driving through downtown.
"Some of them were aspirational, and some of them will be more concrete,” Rodney Taylor, owner of Market at Main, said.
In August, Lynchburg officials began taking the community's input. Throughout the month, city officials say they've had listening sessions, stakeholder meetings, had 900 responses to their online survey and did pop-up sessions at the university and colleges in town.
“[It was] very intense getting public input. Actually I've been doing this for quite a while. I've done a lot of neighborhood plans. This is the most public input we've ever got on a plan. So this has been fabulous,” Tom Martin, city planner, said.
Taylor has attended every meeting about revitalizing downtown, he says, "There was no residential component. It was interesting that they had this time, that they were listening to people that lived downtown."
The city's consultants took the community’s concerns and formed ideas like having an amphitheater on the riverfront and changing one-way lanes to two-way traffic. "I hope that they will reconsider that. I think right now downtown has developed wonderfully for the last 20 years with one-way traffic. We don't need to have that conversion in order to keep progressing,” Taylor said.
The city says overall, the consensus has been positive and people are optimistic.
“We've been so fortunate the past 20 years with what's happened with the renaissance of downtown. It's exciting to think of what the future holds,” Taylor said.
City officials say the next step is to present the draft plan to the planning commission and council. They also say people can still provide feedback and view the presentation on Downtown2040.com.