Friday, March 7, 2014
In 2040, Summerville will be a place that is family-friendly.
After almost a month of interviews, tours and data collection, a family-friendly design is what urban planners – the Lawrence Group – have determined is the keystone to building Summerville’s future, and will be the centerpiece of the town Vision Plan they are developing.
The design team, led by project manager Monica Holmes, gave a closing presentation for the master planning process Thursday evening at Town Hall.
The venue was packed, with all 140 seats filled and many standing in the back of the room. Attendees laughed, nodded in agreement and took notes as the presentation went on.
Her presentation overviewed the Lawrence Groups’ findings and understanding of priorities.
The town is becoming multigenerational, she said, which constitutes a “family-friendly” atmosphere; all age groups – from infants to retirees – will want to live in Summerville.
The larger talking points included expanding transportation options, finding new economic development opportunities through Oakbrook and the Sheep Island Road interchange and expanding on the existing small town charm exemplified in downtown Summerville.
For improving transportation, Holmes specifically mentioned developing public and pedestrian transportation.
For example, she mentioned developing the trails system to become a “green spine” for Summerville that will make all parts of town, from Oakbrook to Nexton, accessible via walking or biking.
Other proposals included establishing an express transit system, such as a “circulator” that commuters can use to alleviate traffic.
She also mentioned the potential for a commuter rail that would frequent between Summerville and downtown Charleston.
Within historic Summerville, Holmes said the Lawrence Group identified several opportunities to increase its form and function, which will ultimately enhance the town’s charm.
Redeveloping Hutchinson Square to be a more active recreational space and building mixed-use infill housing close to the downtown will all enhance the area, she said.
In the larger Summerville area, the Lawrence Group also focused on possible changes that will improve the Oakbrook and new Sheep Island Road interchange areas. The planners hope encouraging new developments in the areas will help revitalize the sections of town and enhance the entrances to downtown Summerville.
In closing, Holmes addressed how the Town can move forward with making the Vision Plan a reality.
She presented a list of “top 10 projects in five years” that the Town government can work on immediately. Included in the list are improving crosswalks on Dorchester Road, redesigning Hutchinson Square, completing the Sawmill Branch Trail loop and building housing downtown.
The first draft of the Vision Plan will be complete and given to Town staff by early summer, she said. The goal is to have a final plan adopted by early fall.
“There seems to be a gap between the drafts and adoption, but the goal is to get a lot of community feedback just like during the charrette,” Holmes told The Journal Scene. “It’s been really exciting, there’s been a lot of buzz and excitement about getting things done and I can’t wait to come back to Summerville in the future and see this progress occur.”
For images of Summerville “now” and “in the future” go to www.journalscene.com and see the story online.
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