Saturday, May 04, 2013

Lake Nasworthy is Economic Development

In small print above the slide states:

"The designs and concepts in this presentation are for illustrative purposes only."

Actually the designs and concepts are from a series of stakeholder meetings, public meetings, and interaction with city leaders and planning staff.  Four consulting groups added their expertise from doing similar work in other parts of Texas and the United States.

Oddly, the project boiled down to one thing, economic development.  This was not a surprise for those watching City Council the last three years.

The Consulting Four Horsemen "illustrated" putting public space on private land and private development on public land. 
Public use on private land is the light purple area above, termed the Special Opportunity Zone.  It's the former WTU Power Plant, where the team suggested creating a Heritage Center with educational and entertainment aspects.

The consultants did not identify the current owners of the WTU property, but they did identify possible funding sources for such an endeavor.  The list included Brownfields money from the federal government and a foundation or nonprofit led fundraising campaign.

As for the private development on city land, consider the proposed Harbor-side Village, the small bright red area pictured above.  The name brought to mind HarborPlace in Baltimore and Waterside in Norfolk, each experiencing the need for significant reinvestment after 30 years, some of which is public money.

Here's what the Four Consulting Horsemen pictured for what is now Mary Lee Park, the Nature Center and the shuttered marina.

The image above shows development on both sides of Knickerbocker Road.  On the Southeast side of the road would sit four or five story buildings.  The side closer to the water would have one or two story buildings.  The major tenant would be a hotel with surrounding shops and restaurants.

I am particularly interested in how current users of Mary Lee Park would be impacted by development.  My windsurfing launch would be replaced by a hotel.  Where else might I be able to put in to sail this main body of water?  Consultants spoke of windsurfers using the Community Activity zone (the light blue area).  I've never launched from that area.

The economic development card is finally on the table.  We've been informed, however I need more information to consent.  As an existing user of Mary Lee Park, how can I retain access to the lake?  If this site is gone, how will the city accommodate, i.e. provide other launches places around the lake where I can sail in various wind directions?

As I think of other users, especially the Swim Beach at Mary Lee Park, I wonder how many locals would continue swimming and grilling out should the above development occur?  Might a byproduct be gentrification?  Will redevelopment achieve it's aim? 

“A carefully planned public-private partnership that results in a functional blend of improved lake access and supporting infrastructure for residents, open space/greenbelt areas, selectively approved economic development activities by private investors that do not negatively impact existing recreational activities for San Angelo residents, and non-motorized connectivity enhancements that mitigate motorized vehicle traffic issues and promote increased physical activity on the part of residents and visitors.” - Bill Cullins, local author and exercise enthusiast.

in addition to Bill's running, swimming and cycling prowess, he is a talented windsurfer.  Look for us on the water testing possible windsurfing launches, hopefully under improved lake access.

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