Sand Springs’ “unique history” can be the key to the revitalization of its downtown, a city-planning expert says.
“A lot of communities think they’re special, but you really are,” Doyle Hyett, a city planner with the firm of HyettPalma, told an audience of Sand Springs’ business, civic, and city government leaders.
The legacy of community founder Charles Page is an asset that can be used to revitalize the downtown area, Hyett said.
When Doyle and Dolores Palma were gathering information and interviewing business owners several weeks ago, they heard references to Page and thought he was still alive.
“That’s how powerful his legacy is,” Hyett. “That’s what makes your community unique.”
As a follow-up to that research, Hyett presented an “action agenda” to develop and revitalize downtown Sand Springs. Referring to the December ice storm, he said, “Downtowns are like trees. With a little TLC, they’ll come back strong.”
The report listed the city’s strengths as the Sand Springs Cultural Museum, the Charles Page Triangle, numerous restaurants, specialty businesses and well-maintained buildings. The report also cited the low vacancy rate in the city and noted that Sand Springs municipal government spent more than $500,000 in 2007 on downtown improvements.
“The truth is you can’t have a first-class town without a first class-downtown,” he said.
Previous concerns had been raised questioning the impact of River City Crossing and parking on the vitality of downtown Sand Springs.
The proposed shopping center can be “a major anchor for the southern edge of downtown” and that merchants “should not be fearful,” Hyett said.
River City Crossing and downtown will have “distinct identities,” nothing that downtown should be “pedestrian-oriented because River City Crossing will be automobile-oriented.”
He suggested the Keystone Expressway overpass on Main Street could be designed to act as “a gateway to downtown,” and that downtown should have a mix of retail, office, and housing (loft apartments), as well as arts and entertainment venues.
He recommended that “performance space” be found downtown for the newly formed Sand Spring Community Theatre and stressed that parking is a prime factor in drawing customers downtown.
Hyett also noted that Sand Springs could benefit from hanging flower baskets, which he described as “a cheap fix,” and recommended that metal trash receptacles be placed on every corner.
To make sure these recommendations are carried out, Hyett urged the action agenda plan be adopted by the city council.
He urged that the “process committee” that worked with HyettPalma stay in place and work with the city to develop the plan and suggested the city “continue to extend staff support” to ensure implementation.