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Woodstock launches downtown planning effort, seeks input

H. Rick Bamman file photo - hbamman@shawmedia.com
The city of Woodstock has kicked off efforts to complete a cohesive plan for the downtown area. Multiple meetings will be held over the course of May & June to find out what residents and businesses think should be incorporated.
H. Rick Bamman file photo - hbamman@shawmedia.com The city of Woodstock has kicked off efforts to complete a cohesive plan for the downtown area. Multiple meetings will be held over the course of May & June to find out what residents and businesses think should be incorporated.

WOODSTOCK – The city wants to develop a plan for the Square and needs input from residents and businesses.

The city recently launched efforts to put together a plan for the historic downtown area and wants feedback from residents, business owners and other community stakeholders. Officials said the point of the downtown planning strategy is to develop a vision for the area so that redevelopment will come together cohesively.

Officials identified nine key sites for redevelopment, including the Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s Jail, Richard’s Building Supply, Woodstock Station, American AdBag building, the old Grace Lutheran Church, the old Elks Lodge, the old BMO bank building and the 200 block of North Benton Street.

“I think the market is coming back, so we can see progress in the short term,” Economic Development Director Garrett Anderson said. “We wanted to make sure some of those key pieces of the downtown are working under the same goals and strategies rather than piecemealing it.”

People can take a survey on the city’s website to give an opinion on what they would like to see in those spaces. The city also is hosting public meetings to discuss the topic.

The City Council will next meet at
7 p.m. Tuesday at Woodstock City Hall. Within the next several weeks, the city will host a walking tour downtown and discuss the plan, Anderson said.

City Council members said they look forward to hearing from the public on the matter.

“I would like to see us get the message out to the maximum number of people and hear from people we wouldn’t typically hear from,” council member Jim Prindiville said. “I think there are some important aspects of the plan that have already been done, in particular with Woodstock Station.”

The city plans to continue gathering input through July and come up with recommendations for the Plan Commission, and ultimately the City Council, to adopt by late fall, Anderson said.

Council member Mike Turner said he hopes the plan will be a springboard that will help Woodstock become more aggressive in making development happen.

“The purpose of the plan is so we can get somewhat definitive about ideas for different areas and parcels downtown, and have structure that we can provide to developers that may want to come in,” he said. “I personally envision an almost urban-type setting with additional housing be that apartment, condos or town homes that add residents to the downtown who value living by the train line and our Square.”

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