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Community Plan Workshop Feedback
April 24, 2007 at 7:00 PM

Workshop Overview

The second Community Plan public workshop, hosted by the Williamsville Community Plan Committee, occurred on April 24, 2007. The main focus of the workshop was to present plan concepts and ideas to the public for review and comment. Specifically, the following topic areas were covered:

  • Land Use Concepts
  • Spring Street and Williamsville Mill Concepts
  • Main Street Economic Development
  • Transportation Alternatives

A summary of ideas and concepts presented can be found here.

A PDF version of the slide presentation shown at the workshop can be viewed here.

A PDF slide presentation of photos from the workshop can be viewed here.

Despite competition with the first sunny, spring-like day of the year, workshop attendance was robust, with over 70 members of the community participating. Workshop participants hailed from all areas of the village. A youthful perspective was added to the mix with the presence of a government class from Williamsville East High School.

Presentation

The first part of the workshop consisted of a presentation by the consultant team (Behan Planning Associates – Lead Consultant, Devonomics, SRF Associates, and Environemntal Design & Research), who have been working with the village and the Committee on the development of the plan.

Topic Stations and Group Discussions

Subsequent to the presentation, workshop participants were invited to circulate among a series of “topic stations” set up around the workshop space, each station corresponding to a topic area in the presentation (see above). Each topic station was staffed by a project consultant and Community Plan Committee member, who were on hand to facilitate discussion of plan ideas and concepts, and answer questions. Easel displays at each topic station visually communicated key concepts. Some workshop participants chose to remain at one topic station for the duration of the workshop, while others chose to divide their time between stations. Notes from the discussion and comments at each topic station were recorded on large white notepads and relayed back to the entire group of workshop participants when they reconvened prior to the conclusion of the workshop.

A summary of the discussions that occurred at each topic station follows below, as well as transcriptions of the actual notes that were recorded during the discussions.

Topic Station 1: Land Use Concepts

Discussion at the “Land Use” topic station focused largely on Long Street Park and how it could be improved, as well as opportunities for future redevelopment posed by the large amount of land in the immediate area currently devoted to industrial uses. The importance of the park to the village and its potential to be improved were universally agreed upon. Particularly well received was the idea of creating a link between the Lehigh Memory Trail and Long Street Park. While all agreed that the village should be prepared for a time when current industrial uses might choose to relocate, there was a wider range of opinions as to how vacated industrial lands should be redeveloped. For instance, while most supported the idea of planning for new residential uses in conjunction with improvements to the park, opinions varied as to the appropriate scale and type of residential uses.

Transcribed notes from the discussion at Topic Station 1 can be viewed here


Topic Station 2: Spring Street and Williamsville Mill Concepts

Discussion at Topic Station 2 centered on the rehabilitation of the Williamsville Mill and the role it could play in creating a more vibrant, destination oriented downtown. Concepts for redevelopment of the larger area around the mill, including Spring Street and parklands on both sides of Main Street, an area conceptually dubbed “Mill Village,” were also discussed. The concept of rehabilitating the mill was enthusiastically received. Most workshop participants viewed the mill as a treasured village resource and felt that its historical value should be respected in any redevelopment plan. Most also felt that a rehabilitated mill, perhaps with a working water wheel, could be a catalyst for improving the Main Street experience. A number of workshop participants suggested the mill could make a “green” statement, by generating power on the energy network. Making better connections, across Main Street via a pedestrian crossing or traffic light, and to parkland that lies at the heart of the village, was also supported. The need for better organized and/or additional parking was acknowledged. Most supported the idea of exploring opportunities for a small parking structure behind Main Street stores, but there was an equally strong opinion that any such structure would have to be sensitively designed to “fit in” with the scale and character of the village. Lastly, a “greenway” concept, that provides an alternative pathway for recreational walkers and bikers off of Main Street and links village parks and greenspaces, was favorably received.

Transcribed notes from the discussion at Topic Station 2 can be viewed here


Topic Station 3: Main Street Economic Development

The Main Street Economic Development discussion centered on how Williamsville's business district needs to be managed and marketed in a more cohesive manner. Participants were in agreement that Williamsville has to branch out from its traditional marketing aimed at village residents, in light of the finding that the majority of market support for Main Street businesses comes from residents of the greater Amherst/Cheektowaga/Clarence area. The Mill Village is seen as an important counterpoint to Main Street--it will serve a different function, but the two must be linked together. Shared parking and pedestrian improvements along Main Street were seen by participants as critical to the success of Main Street and the Mill Village in the future."

Transcribed notes from the discussion at Topic Station 3 can be viewed here


Topic Station 4: Transportation Alternatives

The Transportation Alternatives discussion centered on the reality of the high traffic volume on Main Street and finding implementable solutions to mitigate the impacts associated with it. Many workshop participants noted that potential regional changes to the transportation network could potentially reduce traffic volumes down the road, but that in the shorter term, high traffic volumes would remain. Most supported the idea of planted medians at strategic locations along Main Street as both a safety and aesthetic improvement. The idea of a pedestrian crossing or light near Main and Spring was also warmly received. More traffic enforcement, gateway treatments, and pedestrian improvements were all seen as ways to swing the balance back towards a more walkable, pleasant Main Street experience that is good for residents, shoppers and business owners.

Transcribed notes from the discussion at Topic Station 4 can be viewed here


Next Steps

The Community Plan Committee, with the assistance of its consultants, is in the process of pulling together a draft version of the Village of Williamsville Community Plan for public review and comment. A third public meeting will be held to present the draft plan and receive public input. Stay tuned for updates!