Friday, September 30, 2016

Thank you for attending & here is additional background

Thanks to our community members who took the time to attend our special Council meeting on Wednesday night, Sept. 28, on the Civic Center Visioning Study. What a great meeting!

Here is a summary of the overview I presented as background prior to the consultants' reports:

At a facilitated goal-setting workshop on January 10, 2015, the Town Council adopted as part of its top 5 major priorities the pursuit of a Civic Center relocation and feasibility/economic study and the pursuit of a hotel on the Town Green. On June 17, 2015, the Town Council approved its 2-year budget for Fiscal Years 2015-17, and approved funding for the Civic Center Visioning Study.

As many community members are aware, since the Town Green and downtown were initially established in 2001, it was always the Town's intent to complete the Town Green by building along the northern edge.  The Town Council, in adopting this goal and funding for the study, expressed that since the downtown has had time to mature, coupled with the improving economy, it is a good time to engage the residents of Windsor to determine what kind of a redesign of this area would meet our future needs and goals for the downtown.   This study is implementing that objective.  

The firm of Wallace Roberts and Todd, WRT, have conducted the study on potential alternative uses of the existing Windsor Civic Center and its immediate vicinity and will present their findings.  

Furthermore, fortunately, the Town had the unique opportunity timing-wise to take advantage of the work of the firm Urban 3, out of Asheville, North Carolina, who is here performing its insightful financial analysis of land use development patterns in close proximity to the various SMART stations along the Highway 101 corridor. Urban 3 has had work taking place in Petaluma and Santa Rosa this week. Urban 3 is working in partnership with local non-profit Urban Community Partnership to support economically sustainable growth in Sonoma County.

As background to the Civic Center Study, the Town Council in 2012 adopted the Downtown Station Area Plan which sought to establish a cohesive transit oriented community in the downtown. One of the opportunities identified in the Station Area Plan was the exploration of intensification or redevelopment of the existing Civic Center site with multi-use development that would define the Town Green’s northern edge with active uses. The Civic Center site and Library were identified as an opportunity site in the Station Area Plan

As further background, in 2006, the Sonoma County Library conducted a Master Facilities study which identified that the Windsor Regional Library was only one-third of the size it ideally needed to be for the service area it covers, which includes the greater Windsor communityLarkfield and Wikiup areas. An updated Library facilities master plan is underway by the Sonoma Library Joint Powers AuthorityThe Windsor Regional Library building is owned by the Town of Windsor, and the Sonoma Library Joint Powers Authority leases the building at no cost, and provides for its operations and staffing.

Windsor’s 2012 Station Area plan also included a guiding principle of promoting the establishment of at least one hotel downtown.Furthermore, the Town’s 2008 Economic Development Strategic Plan called for a feasibility study on the development of a boutique hotel. Such a feasibility study was completed in 2014 with results reported to the Planning Commission and Council for a 40-room boutique hotel, with ground-floor restaurant and meeting space. 

In terms of one of the civic uses currently downtown, the Huerta Gym, the April 2016 approved Administrative Draft of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan calls for a Multi-Generational Community Center at Keiser Park to maximize efficiencies and to replace the Huerta Gym and its program activities with active use and gym space, as well as facilities specifically meant for preschool use.

With respect to the three Civic Center alternatives presented by WRT this evening, staff sought direction from Council on a preferred alternative to include as a component of the ongoing General Plan update. 

The Town Council directed staff to pursue Alternative #2 which places commercial development on the northerly edge of the Town Green, builds a new larger Library, replaces the Town Hall with a new multi-level structure, adds surface level shared parking, creates a new multi-purpose events center on the Green, and creates housing at Windsor Road and Old Redwood Highway.