Aug. 23—BLUEFIELD — Work is underway on a long-range plan that will address housing, playgrounds, downtown, local universities and other assets in the town of Bluefield.
Bluefield City Council recently hosted Jared Anderson, a representative from West Virginia University’s Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic, for the city’s initial planning committee meeting to to help the city develop a new joint comprehensive plan.
“It’s actually the state that requires municipalities to have comprehensive plans across the country,” City Manager Cecil Marson said. “It’s probably been almost 10, 11 years since Bluefield did one. Of course, as we all know, a lot of things have changed since the last time we did one, although a lot of things are applicable and a lot has been done. the old one, which is great. But what is it, it’s kind of an action plan for the whole community, no matter who you are, to be involved in city planning.
The urban planning committee is made up of volunteers who study the direction the city can take. Marson described the planning process as a holistic look at the city and its needs.
“One of the biggest challenges – if you ask me as city manager – is getting housing accessible to our residents, so we’re going to be looking very closely at housing,” he said.
The plan will also address topics such as dilapidated structures and the needs of the city’s children.
“We’re coming out of two years of COVID, which has definitely changed the dynamics of education,” Marson said. “What are we doing with our parks and recreation? Do we bring boys and girls club? How can we better integrate the Wade Center and all these other great organizations that do projects for children? We have to consider it as a community. What do we do with all our playgrounds? Do we have a pickle ball court? Do we have another grass field somewhere here and support other sports, whether it’s midget football, women’s varsity softball, look at that kind of stuff? “
The city’s downtown will be another important part of the overall joint plan along with local festivals and other special events.
“What are we doing with the 400 block to entice businesses to come downtown?” Marson asks. “What do we do with our Christmas holidays and our Christmas market? Our Beaver-Graham week? All those big events like Mountain Fest? But really, it’s a holistic discussion of where we drive Bluefield.
The plan will also consider working closely with Bluefield State University and Bluefield University.
“We have to work very closely with our two colleges here because we have two large colleges with enrollment going up,” he said.
The city will also need to work closely with Mercer County, the City of Princeton and the City of Bluefield, Va., as it drafts the new plan, Marson added.
Drafting the overall joint plan will be a six to eight month process.
“There will be a lot of town halls and inquiries and different areas of interest depending on where we are in the discussion,” Marson added.
The schedules of the public meetings and the start of the surveys will be communicated at a later date.
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