Residents ask what to do ‘Where the sidewalk ends’ in
The future of Downtown Hollister was in the hands of business
owners and local residents Friday, Oct. 5 and Saturday, Oct. 6
during a planning forum set up by RBF Consulting, who will use the
input they received when creating the Downtown Plan.
Residents ask what to do ‘Where the sidewalk ends’ in Hollister
The future of Downtown Hollister was in the hands of business owners and local residents Friday, Oct. 5 and Saturday, Oct. 6 during a planning forum set up by RBF Consulting, who will use the input they received when creating the Downtown Plan.
The Downtown Plan will include a vision of the future Downtown and steps to achieve that vision, according to Al Zelinka, a project director with the firm that is developing the plan.
“There’s a lot of potential here,” Zelinka said. “We work in downtowns with a lot less market potential. There are a lot of assets here that can just be tapped more effectively.”
Friday’s events included a kick-off lunch at The Vault Restaurant. At the lunch, Downtown residents and business owners discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the city core. More than 50 people were at the meeting.
“The turnout was fabulous,” Zelinka said, referring to the lunch.
The project team from RBF Consulting has worked in towns where only a few people show up to meetings, according Zelinka.
Zelinka asked the audience, by a show of hands, how they think Downtown is doing. When asked who thinks downtown is thriving, no one raised their hand. Most others thought it is sleepy or just busy with traffic.
“The challenge [is] how to take Downtown from a primarily sleepy town to thriving,” Zelinka said.
Following the lunch nearly 20 people participated in a Downtown walk.
Members of the project team handed out cameras labeled either ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ so they could take pictures of the things that work and the things that don’t work around Downtown.
One participant in the walk asked what could be done about the section of Downtown where the sidewalk ends at Sally Street and Fourth Street. There are no walkways for pedestrians to cross the street at many intersections.
Other participants asked what should be done about the big box stores, such as Target, near Nash Road and McCray Street. They wanted to know if the two commercial corridors should connect, or if planners should exclude the shopping centers.
The Friday and Saturday events were one of the few chances for residents and business owners to give direction to the consultants.
On Saturday, about 20 participants took part in a hands-on workshop, the Downtown Design Charrette. Using maps and markers, small groups were able to design a downtown and develop specific project ideas.
So far, the community seems to have a common vision for Downtown, according to Brenda Weatherly, executive director of the Hollister Downtown Association.
“I think there was a lot of commonality in people’s vision for Downtown,” Weatherly said. “We all seem to be on the same page.”
Common ideas that came up during the meeting include mixed use housing Downtown and creating a civic center, according to Weatherly.
The project team will take the ideas generated by the community last weekend and incorporate them into the draft vision plan for Downtown, according to Suzanne Rynne, a project manager for RBF consulting.
The Hollister Redevelopment Agency is paying 75 percent for the plan with the Hollister Downtown Association pitching in the remaining 25 percent.
The Downtown Association is currently fund-raising to pay their part of the bill. Members of the Association are also waiting to hear the results of two grants for which they applied.
They applied for a $10,000 grant from PG&E and a $25,000 grant from Community Foundation for San Benito County. The staff is expecting the results soon, according to Weatherly.
“Once we hear, we’ll know better what kind of hole we’re in,” Weatherly said. “We’re just waiting to hear if [we get the grants] and how much.”
If the grants do not come in, “we’ll just have to do more fund-raising,” Weatherly said.
Next month the project team will hold a follow-up meeting. They are coordinating the date with the City of Hollister and the Downtown Association.
The final Downtown Plan will be revealed in March 2008.