Auburn residents give mixed feedback about downtown master plan - WRBL

Auburn residents give mixed feedback about downtown master plan

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Auburn residents give feedback about their city Auburn residents give feedback about their city
Map shows little growth over past decades Map shows little growth over past decades
Ideas for the future Toomer's Corner Ideas for the future Toomer's Corner
AUBURN, Ala. -

Over 150 people turned out for Wednesday night's public meeting to discuss the city of Auburn's downtown master plan.

Auburn is taking the first steps towards a revitalized downtown, and the city is getting lots of feedback from locals. At the first of three public meetings, Auburn residents were able to express their opinions about redeveloping the city's center, which has been virtually unchanged since the 1940s.

Auburn's principal planner Justin Steinmann says, "It's kind of the heart and soul of the city, so I think when we're talking about planning for its future, a lot of people from all around the city, whether they live downtown or not, care."

"What's been there has been there so long," says Clint LeNoir, who graduated from Auburn High School and has lived in the city ever since. "For us old timers it's hard for us to conceive of something that different."

Beth Witten has lived in Auburn for 16 years and says, "The boutiques we have are great, the restaurants we have are great, but we can draw in a different clientele." She also wants to see repurposed materials used in the streetscape design.

Chief among the concerns, however, is parking. There are only around 670 public parking spaces available downtown alongside the nearly 1200 private parking spaces, and most are metered and timed during business hours.

LeNoir says, "When you get a parking space you can't stay there long enough to enjoy downtown. Now they're remedying that with the Gay Street parking lot, giving you four-hour parking, but they need to have a way to get people in and out of downtown."

"As part of this effort we really want to look at that parking system of the short, medium and long-term," says Steinmann, "so we're putting the right people parking in the right places. Really we know that we have a lot of parking downtown, it's just making it available to the right people at the right time."

Other issues include facilitating the more than 2000 pedestrians that cross downtown's streets around lunch time during the school year, and the city wants to increase the infrastructure around downtown's borders.

One thing everyone agrees on, however, is keeping Toomer's Corner the iconic landmark it has always been.

The city hopes to have a plan ready for council to vote on by March 2014.

To give your own feedback about what you'd like to see downtown, visit http://www.auburnalabama.org/downtown/.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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