Dennis Madsen, the director of Urban and Long Range Planning for the City of Huntsville, has coined an appropriate phrase.
“It’s like ‘crowdsourcing’ design,” he said.
That philosophy of involving the masses in a decision has been part and parcel to The BIG Picture plans for the City in general. It now comes into play for a specific project, an urban trail for bikers and pedestrians.
There is a four-lane barrier for pedestrians and cyclists when it comes to connecting two vibrant chunks of Huntsville — downtown and the Lowe Mill area. The City is seeking feedback from residents about a plan for connectivity.
The Pedestrian Access and Redevelopment Corridor (PARC) is a 1.5 mile pedestrian/bike trail adjacent to the Pinhook Creek and Spring Branch, north of Holmes Avenue to south of Memorial Parkway.
A survey is available on the City of Huntsville website – you may take the survey here – through Oct. 8.
Questions range from the expected usage of the PARC trail to ideas for the future. As outlined in The BIG Picture comprehensive master plan, this information will be integrated into the final PARC trails plan, which will include an analysis of trail connectivity, assessment of opportunities to expand the network, maintenance plan, and a better trail marking system.
“From our perspective, this is a project that has been a long time coming,” Madsen said. “There has been a challenge for cyclists and pedestrians to get across the parkway, whether it’s over, under or through, for the entire life of the parkway.”
Having this path “opens up one-half of the city to the other for pedestrians and cyclists and begins to open up a broader transportation network,” he continued. “This isn’t just about connecting downtown to Lowe Mill. It’s about connecting all the neighborhoods around downtown to the neighborhoods on the west, to Lowe Mill and Brahan Spring Park and even the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.”
Citizen feedback “has been a huge part of everything we’ve done,” Madsen said, “from the Ditto Landing Master Plan to small area plans to the Downtown Master Plan. We definitely like to have input. We have a lot of technical expertise but we’re not going to know folks’ neighborhoods as well as they do. We love to hear ideas. It’s a great way to improve on any effort, to make sure we get the comments and thoughts of our citizens.”