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City#039;s future topic of town meeting

The future of Andalusia was the topic of discussion Wednesday night as city officials and residents gathered in the Andalusia Elementary School gym to talk strategy.

"A few months ago this process began," Samuel K. Hogg, planning commission chairman, said. "There has been a lot of work going on since then. We have had one town meeting already."

Hogg said the KPS Group developed a comprehensive strategic plan to help develop Andalusia's image and overall quality.

"We started this process several months ago and we looked at several consultants to help us out with our comprehensive plan," Hogg said. "We selected the KPS Group."

Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson said the town meetings are an important part of the planning process because it gives the citizens of the city an opportunity to become involved.

"This is the second such meeting," Johnson said. "I guess you would call it a town hall meeting in connection with our comprehensive strategic plan. This is another phase of what our administration is trying to do today."

Johnson said the comprehensive plan will serve as a map to direct future projects within the City of Andalusia.

"We are trying to map out where we're going," Johnson said. "If you don't have a map, then it is hard to know where you're going and what to do when you get there. So that is what a strategic plan is. It has to do, not only with zoning issues, with all kinds of issues which will be discussed tonight."

Johnson stressed the importance of Wednesday night's meeting and the importance of each person's participation in the planning process.

"This is an important meeting," Johnson said. "This process is important to our community and our future. We feel like if we do a good job on this, then we will get a good result down the road. A good strategic plan should have a ten to twelve-year shelf life. It is going to impact us for a really long time."

According to Johnson a good comprehensive plan, built from the voice of the community, will serve to move Andalusia "in the right direction."

"We need to make sure we deal with issues and talk about things that are important to our community," Johnson said, "We need to move our community in the right direction."

Darrell Meyers, vice president of the Birmingham-based KPS Group, introduced the first draft of Andalusia's comprehensive strategic plan.

"We are here to talk about what's been happening since the last time we were here," Meyers said. "We have been back and forth a few times. We have put together all the ideas from the last meeting."

The first town meetings, held on March 14, served to discuss the preliminary ideas for enhancing and improving the city.

The KPS Group returned to Birmingham and designed a comprehensive strategic plan to present at the next meeting.

"We have put together a draft of the first two-thirds of our comprehensive plan," Meyers said. "We'd like to share with you how we've organized the plan and the vision you told us you had for your own city."

Meyers presented several tentative suggestions for enhancing Andalusia's image and overall quality. Some of these ideas included traffic control and scenic enhancement.

According to Meyers, the traffic flow through East and South Three Notch Street rivals that of

the U.S. 29 South Bypass and traffic should be channeled through these areas into downtown.

Meyers said a few proposals have been brought before the state to widen roads, Church Street being one roadway in question, in Andalusia into three or four lanes. According to Meyers a widening of certain roads could be beneficial, but the roadways should be only be widened enough to include a median.

Meyers said studies have shown that two-lane roadways with medians and few driveways create greater traffic flow than four- or five-lane roadways with no median and many driveways.

Members of the KPS Group will gather with the Andalusia Planning Commission to discuss the first complete draft of the comprehensive strategic plan. A third town meeting will be held sometime in September to present and adopt the final draft of the comprehensive strategic plan.