Comprehensive plan moves forward
City council members, school officials, consultants and residents chatted in small groups around lunch tables in the Eudora High School commons before a comprehensive planning focus session July 10.
Murmurs of conversation about what businesses Eudora has and what businesses should be here echoed throughout the high ceilings of the commons.
By 7 p.m., it was time to get down to business as consultants from Bucher, Willis and Ratliff of Overland Park led the focus session, open to the community. The firm consults mostly for public entities like cities and counties.
Consultant Scott Michie led the meeting, employing some of the enthusiasm of a motivational speaker.
"We're trying to engage and challenge you to think in a positive way," Michie said. "Don't censor yourselves. Don't censor your neighbor. Think big."
He and two other consultants encouraged participation from the audience by asking questions and writing suggestions on oversize tablets pre-printed with issues for discussion.
"We're coming as consultants to push you," Michie said. "Tonight is for you all to talk to each other."
Before the meeting began, Mayor Ron Conner told the audience that the top-10 list of goals for Eudora he mentioned on election night would come from community members at the focus session, not just from him. Planning committee member Kurt von Achen echoed the sentiment, saying that the planning commission couldn't handle Eudora's future by itself.
Before breaking into groups to prioritize lists in f three areas quality of life, economic development or land use and infrastructure the entire group added and discussed items on the notepads.
Michie prompted the audience like a lecturing college professor.
"Who can define 'beautification?'" he asked.
Michie called on raised hands around the commons. Respondents came up with ideas like cleaning up trash and keeping houses painted.
Community members also raised their hands and offered their opinions about what Eudora needs, including a youth center; a large, centralized park area and tax incentives for downtown businesses
Part of the brainstorming session dealt with downtown development issues and historical preservation.
Pam Trefz Staab told consultants and the audience that downtown should be a unique space.
"Competing with Lawrence and Kansas City can be a drawback sometimes," Staab said. "How do we develop a retail area people can use? We need something that distinguishes us from them."
Councilman Tom Pyle, who has a downtown business, said Main Street between Seventh and Eighth streets had always been Eudora's business district.
"I've always thought there's a difference between good old buildings and old buildings," Pyle said. "We've got a couple of good old buildings and a couple that should just give way to another."
Staab and others at the meeting raised the issue of urban sprawl as well.
"What's important to me is that Eudora doesn't look like every other suburb," she said.
Richard Campbell added, "We just want to be unique."
Marilyn Laws Porter and Lane Johnson talked about traditional neighborhood design where homes and businesses are integrated and in close proximity to one another, much like the older area of Eudora.
Michie said a mid-September workshop would use the priorities community members set July 10.