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Dunedin officials plan visioning sessions
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DUNEDIN – At the end of the month city officials will get views from residents on certain main corridors in their community – the good, the bad and the ugly.

And that’s what city commissioners want.

The city will hold visioning workshops Aug. 27-31 at the Hale Center, 330 Douglas Ave.

The sessions, hosted by Jacobs Planning Group, are open to the public and residents are encouraged to participate.

The sessions start with a meet and greet gathering Sunday, Aug. 27, at 2 p.m. followed by a preference overview. Included over the ensuing few days through Thursday, Aug. 31, will be small group discussions, questions and answers with consultants, map exercises, analyses of strengths and weaknesses and more preference surveys focusing on downtown, the State Road 580 corridor and Patricia Avenue corridor.

Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski said the process will not focus on “every single thing that the city does,” she said. “It’s focusing on what has been most important to our residents in the last 10 years.”

“The last visioning was based on almost the same thing. So this is sort of an update to that from 12 years ago,” she said.

It’s important for residents to be involved, she said.

“Because we will be making changes to our comprehensive plan, which is the city’s Bible of how we operate. We will be making changes to our development code to meet those changes of the comprehensive plan,” Ward Bujalski said.

So that the commission can better measure how community stands on the topics discussed, the larger the participation, the better, she said.

“It’s a great way for folks to get their voices heard on what they want to see on these corridors,” Ward Bujalski said. “Believe it or not, back when the visioning was done in 2005, we had a lot of people very concerned about height in projects. Over time we reduced the allowable height in the downtown based on that visioning.”

Commissioners voted to hire Jacobs of Atlanta, which provides engineering, construction, architecture and other services to its clients, to lead the visioning process at a cost of $25,000.

At a commission discussion in early April, Commissioner Moe Freaney, a former Dunedin assistant city manager, said she was a big fan of James Moore, a consultant for Jacobs.

“I was very, very thrilled that he will be a part of this. That gives me a lot of confidence in terms of how this will move along. The quality we will get, the amount of involvement with the community and the type of input he kind of pulls out of the community,” she said.

Lynn Wargo, president of the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce, plans to share the information about the upcoming visioning sessions with chamber members to make sure they are aware of the meetings and have an opportunity to have their input given to the city.

The issues to be presented would make for a good chamber board discussion, she said.

“As representing a lot of businesses in the community, I would have absolutely want to make sure that business issues are going to be addressed,” Wargo said.

A few weeks ago the chamber had offered an opportunity for businesses along the State Road 580 corridor to gather and share their views. They want to have similar informal gatherings among businesses on Patricia Avenue and the Curlew Road-Alternate U.S. 19 area.

“We have been trying to get some corridors together, too, just for general discussion,” Wargo said.

She said holding the visioning sessions shows that caring nature of city’s leadership in wanting to get input from residents and business interests.

“Our leaders seem to want to really draw the citizens of our community into our discussions,” Wargo said.

Harry Steinman, president of Preserve the Vibe, a nonprofit civic organization, said he thinks a lot of members of the group will participate in the visioning sessions.

He believes that city officials did a good job in conducting the sessions in 2005.

“One thing that I think can be added to make it even better is to make sure that the recommendations are consistent to what the residents want,” he said.

“There is tons of really good ideas that came out of the last visioning that are just as applicable today as they were then, and I would like to see some kind of performance measure so we can watch them get implemented,” Steinman said.

Among the conclusions in the 2005 visioning report were that changes are recommended to the city’s zoning code and land use regulations for each of the six areas targeted for redevelopment.

Preliminary height limits and design guidelines were proposed for the downtown, with the hope that they will help channel new and future redevelopment to better match the vision put forth by the community.

Tom Germond is editor of the Dunedin Beacon. He can be reached at 727-397-5563, ext. 330, or by email at tgermond@TBNweekly.com.
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