Committee mulls needed changes in the downtown
The framework of the update for the Downtown Master Plan was approved by the Downtown Steering Committee on June 26 and it will go to the City Commission in a workshop on August 7. It could be formally approved by the commission in September, according to Planning Director Steven Spraker.
The Downtown Master Plan last was revised in 2006. An example of goals in the 2006 plan is the landscaping the medians of Granada Boulevard, which was completed.
The downtown is the Community Redevelopment Area from State Road A1A to Orchard Street along Granada Boulevard including a couple of blocks north and south. In a CRA, the county allows the city to keep part of the property taxes to make improvements in the area.
The five “big ideas” in the framework are: focus on the bridge and four corners parks; leverage the potential of city hall, library and church (the recently purchased church on North Beach Street); continue to work on walkability, traffic calming and mobility; expand the program of coordinated events and district marketing; and explore opportunities to attract key development types.
One of the items discussed at the final committee meeting on June 26 was the parking issue, with some saying there is parking available but not utilized. For example, the parking lot at Ormond Beach Elementary School is available for public parking when school is out but remains empty most nights. And the grassy lot behind The Casements could be used by customers for businesses on West Granada Boulevard, but it’s separated by the tennis courts and not identified as public parking. Also on the beachside, the CVS Pharmacy usually has available spaces, but it’s a private lot.
Other prominent topics in the plan are improving the parks at the four corners of the Granada Bridge and utilizing the City Hall and Library complex. Peter Sechler, of GAI Consultants of Orlando, the company coordinating the project, talked about how these areas could be improved.
He praised Fortunato Park, saying the parking off to the side allows an inviting view of the park and the river. But at Cassen Park and Bailey Riverbridge Gardens, views of the river are blocked by vegetation and parking. Picnic tables and benches are scattered and not located in inviting, shaded areas. He said the parks could be improved without a major effort
To provide more of a unified, public gathering space, he suggested a redesign of City Hall plaza and parking lot and the transition across South Beach Street to Cassen Park. Currently the City Hall area is not a place to bring the community together.
“Everything is just so separated,” he said.
He mentioned there was a consensus on the committee to keep the library in its present location.
For an example of what businesses can do, Sechler pointed out the landscaping and paths behind Frame of Mind and Cakery Creation, facing New Britain Avenue, saying it invites customers to walk around the area.
Other areas that the steering committee looked at were Economic Development, a Sense of Place and Appearance, Arts and Culture, Recreation and Open Space, Transportation and Circulation, Residential Neighborhoods, Standards and Regulations, Environmental Sustainability and Ensuring the Vision with ongoing reporting.
For information about the plan, visit www.ormondbeach.org/242/Downtown-CRA-District.