The Wharton City Council took into consideration what three local entities shared about proposed levee green space design in the city and approved to move forward with the idea.
During a meeting earlier this month, elected officials approved a resolution for an agreement between the City of Wharton and Texas Target Communities from Texas A&M University for the master plan and landscape improvement design for the Levee Green Space and downtown business district.
Gwyneth Teves, who is the city’s Community development director, said Texas Target Communities’ Program Coordinator Jeewasmi Thapa contacted the city regarding the submission of this plan.
She said it includes levee green space planning for a levee footprint that would connect existing parks/Santa Fe Trail to the proposed green space design through bike lanes and trail extensions.
The council was told that the intention of this plan is to produce a step-by-step guide that gives design to the green space and to overall serve as a much needed “Parks and Greenspace Plan.”
According to the City of Wharton, this plan would be derived from details noted in the city’s Comprehensive Plan, including studies such as the APA plan “After the Floods: Planning for Community, Connections, and Resilience” commissioned by the Wharton Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
The WEDC was one of the local entities that supported this idea.
Joshua Owens, WEDC executive director shared his thoughts: “WEDC see this as an opportunity to upgrade our community and enhance our future economic development. Plans such as these are critical in implementing the ideas of the entire community to better serve the community.”
Among the other leaders who mirrored Owens’ opinion on the matter were the Wharton Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture Executive Director Ron Sanders and Wharton Downtown Business Association President Debra Medina.
“The resulting amenities would improve our quality of life, the vitality of the community, and this business activity and tourism,” Sanders said in an Oct. 6 letter to the City of Wharton on the subject.
Added Medina in an Oct. 7 letter to the city: “We know that the pandemic has placed unforeseen economic strain on government coffers. We appreciate that there are a number of projects vying for attention but believe too that efforts to leverage opportunities associated with levee development will pay dividends to the community for decades to come. We encourage the council to approve the request for $16,000 funding for this effort.”
This amount was exactly what the council did and was told the city’s “Levee Greenspace and Parks Plan” proposal was accepted by the program as a multi-class project to start in Texas A&M’s fall semester with a final document by the end of summer 2021 for a total cost of $16,000.
What is Texas Target Communities?
Texas Target Communities is a learning-service program at Texas A&M, and includes the College of Architecture, the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning and the Public Partnership & Outreach at A&M, with a vision to “to help communities across Texas become more equitable, resilient, and adaptive and to become the primary resource for Texas communities seeking help mitigating threats or capitalizing on opportunities to advance economy, environment, and culture.”’
Opportunities to partner with this program yield studies/plans that have been adopted into action by the communities they have been conducted with at a very reduced cost compared to others.
Teves said this program has been conducting various studies in small towns across Texas for 25 years, including the City of El Campo: Downtown Revitalization Project, City of La Grange Housing Needs Study and Comprehensive Land Use Plan (including wayfinding, downtown design, revitalization, and sustainability), City of Rockport Comprehensive Plan, Liberty County Strategic Plan, and the Grimes County Thoroughfare Plan, among others.