McKMAC’s destination: a McKinleyville Town Center

TOWN CENTER This aerial photo shows the boundaries of the town center.
Graphic from McKinleyville Community Plan

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

MCKINLEYVILLE – Leaders in McKinleyville plan to form a special committee made up of local stakeholders who will develop recommendations for the McKinleyville Town Center.

The McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC) decided at its Aug. 28 meeting to form the special committee and will meet again next week to develop a matrix for what types of stakeholders it wants on the committee. The special meeting will take place Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. at the McKinleyville Middle School Conference Center at 2285 Central Ave. on the backside of the campus.

Committeemembers were in agreement at last week’s meeting that the Town Center committee should be dynamic and diverse, with broad-based community representation. McKMAC members were encouraged to do their homework and come to the Sept. 11 meeting with ideas on what type of representation should be on the new committee.

Dennis Mayo, who was filling in for Mary Burke as the McKinleyville Community Services District’s representative on the McKMAC, suggested that to jump-start the process, the committee should start inviting people to submit letters of interest to serve on the Town Center committee.

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The McKMAC, however, decided to wait to solicit a committee until it develops a matrix.

Although the McKMAC isn’t officially accepting applications, people interested in the committee can polish up their resumes and send an email to [email protected]

There’s an irony in the need for a special meeting and the McKMAC’s rush to jump-start the process of developing a Town Center Ordinance, 

being that the creation of the ordinance was called for 17 years ago when the Board of Supervisors approved McKinleyville’s growth blueprint, the McKinleyville Community Plan. That plan designated the Town Center and called for the creation of an ordinance which would dictate building requirements.

Senior Planner Michael Richardson told the McKMAC that the Humboldt County Planning Department would like to have the Town Center ordinance completed in about two-and-a-half months.

The McKinleyville Community Plan designates the Town Center as an area stretching from Pierson Park to McKinleyville Avenue, and from Railroad Drive to an area just south of Hiller Road. It also includes the commercial area north of Heartwood Drive where the Burger King and other businesses are located.

The McKinleyville Community Plan calls for the area to have housing, shops, parks, civic buildings and other facilities connected with pedestrian-friendly pathways. The idea behind the center was to give McKinleyville a focal point and place to gather in a village-like atmosphere.

Portions of the Town Center are developed in ways similar to the vision outlined in the community plan. At Pierson Park there is Azalea Hall, a community building which houses the McKinleyville Senior Center. The park also includes the McKinleyville Activity Center, McKinleyville Teen Center, McKinleyville Library and the McKinleyville Sheriff’s Office. Over on Heartwood Drive, construction is underway on a building that will serve as a social services hub.

“Our Town Center already has a great start,” Mayo said. “Those are all part of the vision.”

The biggest undeveloped portion of the Town Center is the land behind the McKinleyville Shopping Center and along the south side of Hiller Road. 

The ordinance would dictate the requirements for future development of this privately owned land. The Town Center committee would meet over the coming months and develop recommendations for the ordinance.

“Have tbem work through the process of making the sausage, then bring that back to the McKMAC,” said McKMAC member Greg Orsini at the Aug. 28 meeting. The McKMAC would then fine tune the recommendations, which would then be forwarded to the Humboldt County Planning Commission and, finally, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.

Linda Doerflinger spoke on behalf of the McKinleyville Organizing Committee, a group of volunteers who have been pushing for the creation of a Town Center ordinance. She told the McKMAC that during a series of public meetings, organizers found broad support for the Town Center concept.




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