By Patricia Brennan
The City of Irving had its first workshop to discuss the comprehensive plan for the development of the city on Tuesday, March 3. Open to all residents of Irving, the intent of the workshop was to receive feedback and provide information regarding the future plan for the city.
The workshop opened with a speech from the mayor of Irving, Beth Van Duyne, who explained that Imagine Irving was first discussed nine years ago and is finally coming to fruition now.
“We have been looking to really define what our vision is going to be in the future and we need your help. We know what we want, but we haven’t really planned long term how we’re going to get there,” Van Duyne said.
Steven Reed, the director of Irving’s Planning and Community Development, hosted the workshop, along with John Fregonese of Fregonese Associates. The City of Irving is working closely with Fregonese Associates to turn the comprehensive plan for the city into a reality.
Fregonese outlined the plan through a PowerPoint presentation and listed the five steps of Imagine Irving:
1. Outreach to the community to establish residents’ values.
2. The development of a vision.
3. The exploration of alternative options and a preferred vision for Irving.
4. The development of a plan.
5. The implementation of that plan.
The implementation is currently scheduled for January of 2016, with many more opportunities for the community to get involved in the process before then.
According to Van Duyne, Irving is one of the most diverse zip codes in Texas, not just in race or religion, but also in age. The average age of Irving’s population is below the averages of both Texas and the United States. This has the potential to affect the comprehensive plan, since different age groups are looking for very different things to be developed within the city.
Statistics have shown that 61 percent of residents in Irving rent a home, rather than own one. On average, people in Irving seem more inclined to rent a home, even those making $50,00 to $75,000 per year. As most of the housing in Irving consists of multi-family homes, the numbers make it clear that more small homes and apartments are needed to accomodate the rapidly changing demographics of the city.
The city also plans to create more transit-oriented development. Thanks to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) system, the Dallas metroplex has one of the most advanced mass transit systems in the United States. However, development around DART stations would increase the public use. This would include parking lots to make traveling by DART more feasible, and developing more businesses around stops to make it more convenient than driving. Alternate means of transportation, such as bike trails and pedestrian walkways, are a central goal of Imagine Irving, since the urban planners wish to develop around the transportation systems already in place.
A focal point of both the comprehensive plan and the workshop on March 3 was the involvement of the community in Irving. The committee members and planners behind Imagine Irving continue to push for more Irving residents to become involved with the process and make their opinions known. Community members are actively encouraged to attend the workshops and meetings to help plan the future of the city.
“This is a chance for you to really shape the future of this community, and really come in at a time when ears are open and we really want some ideas. We’re just starting the process, and we’re just starting with listening to people and inviting you to share your vision for the future of Irving,” said Fregonese.
Imagine Irving will be hosting three more workshops from April 7 to 9 focusing on smaller areas of Irving. University of Dallas students are invited and encouraged to attend to share their ideas and opinions on the future development of Irving.