Rowlett Comprehensive Plan Update Kick-Off

Last week my wife and I attended the first in a series of interactive planning sessions associated with the Realize Rowlett 2020 campaign to redesign the city’s comprehensive plan.  Being more of a kick off meeting, the organization was such that several stations had been set about the community center room, each dealing with a particular aspect of the city like “people places” or “parks” and all had a map of the city with an associated board for listing citizens’ input.

More than just a wish list of what the citizenry would like to see come into the community as it grows, the lists provided a sounding board for individuals to publicly express what they like and don’t like about the city, as well as express their overall goals and vision for the future of Rowlett.

I particularly enjoyed an interaction I had at the “parks and recreation” station, where I got into a discussion with one of the coordinators about an area near our house called the “muddy creek”.  I quickly found out that the party I was speaking with was actually Jermel Stevenson, the Rowlett Parks and Rescreation Director.

My point was simply that this muddy creek area was an existing node that citizens actively engage.  It is a flood plain upon which a constant stream of fishermen descend to hit catfish, and while it is technically part of the Rowlett park system, has no infrastructure to speak of.  I offered that I would like to see, as part of this plan, the city develop existing nodes of interaction before making an attempt to contrive new ones.  I found Jermel very receptive to the notion, and left the conversation encouraged.

I was less impressed with the station relating to the “downtown”.  While manned by the impeccable Marc Kurbansade with the Rowlett planning department, the boards sought to illicit feedback from the on the typological and morphological nature of the historic downtown, and I thought it feel quite short.

Rowlett is a suburban bedroom community of very low density historically, and while residents have never shown an ambition of growing beyond a homey “small town” feel, I was very perplexed with the imagery shown.  The chosen projects for the “townhome” and “live/work” sections were almost elusively east coast vocabularies, and of densities that would be unique in Rowlett currently.  I was also a little dubious about the “mixed-use”, “mixed residential” and “commercial” images selected.  These are also very foreign to our city, some smacking of Boston or  Baltimore, while still other of San Jose and misc. Californi-esque, all with enormously high densities that would only make sense in major metropolitan centers, not sleepy little burgs on the move.

I’d really have like to have been presented with more imagery consistent with an appropriate vocabulary and densities that Rowlett could feasibly aspire to.  Something like the Domain in Austin comes to mind, with very focused regional morphologies, contemporary styling (though with traditional overtones), and density that would be much more realistically achievable in Rowlett.

However, I look forward to the process going forward.




05 2011