SB downtown revitalization plan complete, now real work begins

SAN BENITO — It appears the plan to revitalize downtown is complete.

Now the hard work begins.

The downtown revitalization plan and the parks and recreation plan all make up what the city refers to as San Benito’s comprehensive plan.

Downtown plays an important role in supporting economic innovation, talent attraction and retention.

According to the plan, downtown is a center for creativity and serves as an incubator for locally-grown businesses.

“Solid downtowns enrich community,” the plan states.

In May, the comprehensive plans were presented by Aaron Tuley, vice president of Kendig Keast Collaborative, the firm tasked with writing the plan.

The plan sets forth a vision specifically for the downtown area, which stimulates and coordinates public and private initiatives and investment.

“It provides the city with an implantable plan of action to spur a new wave of growth,” Tuley said.

It avoids glossy “silver bullet” projects such as new sports stadiums and entertainment districts.

The plan favors the basic building blocks of sustainable urban neighborhoods, quality housing, basic public amenities, solid infrastructure, public spaces, everyday commercial services and a balance of basic everyday neighborhood institutions such as government buildings, schools and churches.

“The approach is driven by the notion that downtown needs to be a place for residents and businesses first, since it is they who will assume the greatest stewardship of it and keep it alive long after the visitors have left,” the plan states.

It’s projected that San Benito’s population could jump to almost 28,000 by the year 2035.

Currently, the population is about 24,000.

According to the newly-drafted comprehensive plan, that could change, along with several other key factors.

The purpose of the comprehensive plan is to provide the city with a road map on how to anticipate and plan for growth over the next 20 years with respect to land use, parks and recreation, infrastructure and other factors.

“When we began the project we were hired to develop a comprehensive plan for the city and two supplemental plans, the downtown revitalization plan and the parks and recreation master plan,” Tuley said.

The firm structured each plan to have a strong economic focus.

Each of the plan segments is structured the same, with guiding principles, goals, focus areas, strategies, initiatives and actions.

“We had a very large degree of public involvement, however, we’d always like to have more,” Tuley said. “We worked with several advisory committees and city leaders.”

The key focuses within the downtown plan include issues related to traffic, code enforcement, weak incentives for future growth, creeping blight, lack of activity or events in the area and space unavailability due to spaces that need to be renovated.

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