Plaza Task Force sifts options, and there are a lot of them

The Plaza Improvement Task Force toiling to distill its recommendations for the City Council. KLH | Union

Dajonea Robinson
Mad River Union 

ARCATA – It’s time to refine, consolidate, and prioritize what’s best for the Arcata Plaza. The Plaza Improvement Task Force (PITF) is refining their recommendations to bring a concise list to the public and City Council during a study session in November.

Julie Neander is the Task Force’s city staff liaison. She said the Task Force has a whole process that’s been ongoing for about a year. 

“They [The Plaza Improvement Task Force] did a lot of outreach and they also got a lot of information from different experts on economic development, design for the Plaza, inclusivity and more,” Neander said. “The council gave them [The Plaza Improvement Task Force]  charge to look at four things: ways to improve economic development, ways to beautify the Plaza, improve infrastructure, increase programming, and increase safety and regulation.”

The task force has been working on what they call a matrix. It includes many possible recommendations gathered from surveys from the community. The Task Force then ranked each recommendation based on a ranking criteria that was developed. 

Draft Implementation Options Recommendation List

Each recommendation was analyzed and ranked through the criteria the group agreed upon. 

TF Recommendation scoring_2nd round_Sept. 2019 - ANONYMOUS ranked order

Some of the findings from the recommendations from the public were larger issues than the main four criteria given to the Task Force.

“They’re trying to figure out how to work with the council and let them know not only specific recommendations for the Plaza, but some of these bigger issues have come up and the Task Force feels that those are important too,” Neander said.

Daniel Bixler is the vice chair of the Plaza Task Force. Bixler said that during this meeting the Force approved their old notes and reviewed their recommendations. 

According to Bixler, the Task Force is trying to refine the recommendations and make sure mation that they’ve  gotten. This is to be sure  that they’re accurate with how  they want to recommend to the council.

“We filtered through the rough draft of recommendations and made sure the survey and different parties that have an interest in the Plaza were represented and nobody was left out,” Bixler said. “The priority system that we created accurately reflected those interested parties like the public, the business and so forth.”  

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Bob Gutierrez has been a Humboldt County resident for the past 13 years. Gutierrez attended Thursday’s meeting to see what the findings were from the survey that was sent out to the community and to pitch an idea as to what  could be placed in the Arcata Plaza. 

“I have a friend that is a San Francisco-based artist that has a series of bronze structures that we could poetically, temporarily installed in the common areas of the Plaza,” Gutierrez said.

 Over the next few days the Task Force will come up with ways to organize and consolidate the recommendations so that the priorities  aren’t overlapping being repeated during the Study Session in November. 

Jayne McGuire is the Parks and Recreation Committee Appointee and Chair of the Plaza Improvement Task Force. McGuire described the future Study Session as an informal gathering.

“Our committee will come  together with the City Council and talk in a more casual setting about our process and what we learned through the process and how we got to the point of our rough draft of  recommendations,” McGuire said.  “We’ll share those with City Council and they’ll be able to ask us questions and we’ll have a dialogue about that as well as the community that is there.”

After the Study Session the committee will then gather all of the information from the session  and then  finalize their recommendations for City Council.

The task force would greatly appreciate if the community would attend the Study Session tentatively set for November 4.

“We’ve worked hard to get input from the community and this is our opportunity to present what we’ve learned and so if they could come to the study session that would be fantastic,” McGuire said. “As a community the recommendations that we make are hopefully representative of what we’ve heard, that’s certainly our goal.”






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