Split political views seem to be taking over all social media platforms, topics of conversation and the news. Regardless if a person is for or against a certain topic, it is now typical that he or she fights passionately to protect their opinion and reach a desired outcome. While people tend to agree wholeheartedly with others who share the same opinions, the gap between differentiating opinions widens daily.
The current presidential race reflects this perfectly, as many voters feel strongly opposed to one candidate or another. While the current divide does not appear to be turning neighbor against neighbor, it does make for difficulty discussing issues openly — possibly greater than ever before.
Philosophical differences related to governmental issues are mirrored in our community discussion series survey responses. Nevertheless, coming together and listening to other points of view is important when it comes to city related issues. One may argue this is even more important at a grassroots level as impacts of ordinance changes are greatly felt at the local level. Therefore, reaching a middle ground is crucial to make sure that every voice feels heard, appreciated and taken into consideration.
One of the most recent meetings discussed a new proposed sidewalk ordinance and the philosophy of connectivity in our community. Results from this meeting were compiled based on 44 survey responses from those who attended and gave online feedback. Responses expressed strong support for sidewalk construction through public funding such as taxes, bonds and road maintenance funds. Many at the meeting also suggested sidewalk construction should be required in conjunction with commercial construction projects.
From this, a draft ordinance has been created for public review in order to solicit feedback and changes prior to approval from Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council.
Next week, a second discussion about sidewalks will be held in order to blend these varied and diverse opinions. Residents are invited to share ideas to help shape the future of our community in regards to connectivity, walkability and sidewalks in a proposed urban core overlay district.
The proposed urban core overlay district denotes an area of mixed institutional, retail, offices, residential, lodging, dining and entertainment establishments. If established, sidewalks will be required for development in these areas. Guidelines for these requirements will be discussed and reviewed at the meeting. The meeting will also address the question of where the urban core overlay district should lie. In other words, it will be important to identify priority areas for future sidewalk development.
This draft ordinance is a starting point based on previous discussions and the feedback received. As we all know, there is a cost to sidewalks and widespread connectivity, and discovering who will fund these costs is a major topic as we continue to work toward comprehensive connectivity throughout the community.
Although we have drafted the proposed ordinance, it is important to continue seeking feedback in order to put the community’s ideas in writing. Since this is a topic the City of Nacogdoches staff has been asked to address by many citizens, it’s important to have a second discussion prior to sending a draft forward.
Reaching an understanding related to these issues is something very important to growth in Nacogdoches. Since the goal of this second discussion is to incorporate opinions from both sides and create a middle ground draft to reflect as many sides of the community’s ideas as feasible.
In order to achieve this, we must practically balance input from the Nacogdoches community, creative strategies from all parties involved, and keep the impact on businesses in mind.
Overall, it is important to keep an open mind when passionately discussing issues related to our city so we can continue to work toward progressing in meaningful ways — regardless of subject matter. The City of Nacogdoches invites you to the Courthouse Annex at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 30 to begin moving forward for the greater good of our beloved community.
Erin Monroe is a communications intern for the City of Nacogdoches.
View DRAFT ordinance here: