Elon’s town council has selected a consultant to develop a new downtown master plan that the town’s leaders now hope will come together with plenty of input from the community’s residents.
During a regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday, the council voted to assign this project to Charlotte-based Benchmark planning – one of two consulting firms that had competed for this particular job.
Jill Weston, the town’s downtown development director, recalled that she had originally received submissions from six different firms before the council decided to widen the scope of this project to include streetscaping proposals for North Williamson Avenue.
Weston added that this expanded project still proved attractive to Benchmark and another firm called Regeneration by Design. She went on to recommend Benchmark over the other contender based on factors that included the company’s plans for public involvement.
Elon’s town manager Richard Roedner told the council that the plan which Benchmark creates will ultimately look at everything from land use to the aesthetics of the downtown area. He added that the final results of this project are intended to pull feedback from an earlier downtown master plan, which he conceded was “tailored” to the needs of “one user” – by which he presumably meant the town’s eponymous university.
Roedner also shared his aspirations for the public’s involvement in the new downtown master plan.
“One of my bugaboos about the planning process is how do you get people out,” he informed the council, “and that will not be skimped on.”
Mark Greene, the town’s mayor pro tem, was also optimistic that the new master plan will reflect a wider array of interests than its predecessor.
“We have more of a vetting process for doing that now than we did,” he said. “We have a downtown coordinator; we have an arts council…and I feel confident that we’re going in the right direction.”
The council went on to approve Benchmark’s selection by a unanimous margin of 5-to-0 and gave Weston the go-ahead to negotiate a rate for the firm’s contract with Elon.