‚ÄúIt‚Äôs going to be really great for the town to see where we are, where we want to go and what we could do better,‚ÄĚ said Webster Mayor Nick Breedlove.
The grant can only be used for planning purposes. Any implementation of resulting recommendations would have to be tackled with other funds.
‚ÄúLike you can‚Äôt go out and buy a park bench,‚ÄĚ Breedlove explained. ‚ÄúIt has to be used for planning.‚ÄĚ
According to the town‚Äôs grant application, a planning study will be conducted that ‚Äúexamines walkability, town history and strengthening existing town ordinances.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe purpose of the project is to conduct an overall townwide walkability assessment, increase awareness and appreciation for the town history and develop a plan for the town of Webster,‚ÄĚ the grant application explains. ‚ÄúThis Plan will identify projects, programs and policies to improve health, by promoting walkability, and stimulate economic development for the town.‚ÄĚ
This is not new territory for Webster. The town board has considered ways to accomplish these ends before.
‚ÄúThe town board did a planning retreat and have some ideas already,‚ÄĚ Breedlove said, ‚Äúbut we want someone with a fresh set of eyes.‚ÄĚ
So, the town is using its grant to hire planner Don Kostelec. He‚Äôs familiar with the area ‚ÄĒ having done work in Sylva, and currently in Cullowhee ‚ÄĒ and Breedlove said the board felt confident in Kostelec‚Äôs ability to produce a usable, tailor-made plan.
‚ÄúOur board was very cautious in agreeing to do this study,‚ÄĚ the mayor said. ‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt want to end up with a plan that gathers dust or a plan that is written for another town with Webster‚Äôs name slapped on it.‚ÄĚ
Kostelec said he will be focusing on ‚Äúsmall, bite-sized things they can work on.‚ÄĚ He mentions possibly making improvements to Buchanan Loop, a popular walking trail, or considering developing a brand and logo. A water fountain could enhance the town, and a library kiosk might encourage socialization.
‚ÄúLittle things like that,‚ÄĚ Kostelec said.
The planning study began in August and will wrap up next March. It will entail fieldwork and public input. At that point, Webster will consider the recommendations ‚ÄĒ which Kostelec says will be ‚Äútangible‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ that arise from the planning study and how best to accomplish them.