CLARKSVILLE — The Clarksville Redevelopment Commission is taking steps to keep a major development project in motion by creating an online platform for residents to give input.
At a special meeting Tuesday, which was available for the public to attend by calling in or signing into the online session, the commission voted to implement an online workshop for the 3C Master Plan, or Catapult Central Clarksville.
The yearlong, four-phase plan, led by Rundell Ernstberger and Associates (REA) will help guide town leaders in revitalization over the next two decades of roughly 600 acres of aging or underused properties in central Clarksville, an area which includes the Green Tree and River Falls Malls and other commercial properties.
Input sessions were held in January and February with stakeholders and residents, but after state and national guidelines were issued in early March to limit gatherings, the March 16 meeting was canceled.
At the Tuesday meeting, Clarksville Redevelopment Director Dylan Fisher recommended that the commission move forward with the community input process of the project, although the process may be a little slower right now. He acknowledged that everyone is working with a new normal right now during this public health crisis.
“This is not something we study for in school,” he told the commission.
In a public input session held in January, REA presented some of its initial findings, including that 24% of the corridor in question is vacant, with just under 57% used as entertainment.
Participants visited different stations, looking at maps of existing conditions and discussing what they would like to see in the town.
“The recommendations that came out of that first public input meeting have been developed into two concept plans showing the future development pattern — what this new commercial corridor of our community could look like, the types of uses, locations, what roads could look like,” Fisher said.
“The online version will present these two concepts and get the public feedback on those two concepts to figure out which concept is preferred or is there a hybrid.”
Commission members expressed agreement with moving forward, with Mike Mustain saying that it’s important to “keep this in front of the town and keep progressing,” he said, adding that it will also show new investors and those looking to develop in the area that things are moving.
“They’re going to want to know we have a plan of action.”
Commission member Bob McEwen agreed it needs to continue, but expressed concern with all residents being able to easily access the workshop via computer or other device.
“It will be very much a struggle for our community to keep up with this online,” he said. “The learning curve is going to be slow.”
Fisher said that is something being taken into consideration. Participants will be able to navigate the plan, which is broken own into segments, at their own speed over the course of the monthlong workshop.
“The participant will be able to jump between segments whether they want to learn about roadway improvements or infrastructure improvements or the housing objectives,” Fisher said in an interview. “It will be to where it’s not overwhelming...you work through your one section, you move on to the next.”
There will also be short videos with each section, and a video showing them how to use the website overall. They can answer questions and give input in as many or few sections as they like. A hotline will be set up for participants to leave messages if they experience issues.
And if online is just not something they feel comfortable doing, there will be an option to get a physical packet in the mail or from the Clarksville wastewater billing department and mail in their responses. But Fisher said the online opportunity just might give some a new reason to participate.
“While the online engagement may be intimidating to some people, public forums are also intimidating to some people,” he said. “To be asked to stand up and talk into a microphone in front of 100 people can be very intimidating.
“So I think we’ll see some residents as a result of this online engagement platform get more involved than they would have.”
The online workshop is expected to be launched by the end of the month or early May and run for 30 days. At that time, the commission will meet to see if another 30 days may be needed.