Birmingham to host master plan drop-in clinic

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published June 28, 2019

 Proposals developed from data collected during the May charrette will be presented for the public to review and critique July 8-10.

Proposals developed from data collected during the May charrette will be presented for the public to review and critique July 8-10.

File photo by Tiffany Esshaki

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BIRMINGHAM — Two months after Birmingham finished a week-long charrette to query residents about their residential neighborhoods, city officials are ready to share what they’ve learned during a two-day drop-in clinic.

As part of the city’s revision of the master plan at large — namely, the neighborhoods that connect unique areas like the Triangle District, the Rail District and downtown — Birmingham hired DPZ Codesign for just under $300,000 to engage residents with meetings, surveys and neighborhood association gatherings to get an idea of what residents would like to see over the next 20 years as far as planning in and around residential areas.

“Basically, after a series of meetings and the charrettes (in May), we put together some proposals based on (that data) that we’d like to get some feedback on,” said Matt Lambert, a partner with DPZ Codesign. “So we’re essentially coming back to the same space to engage one-on-one with people who have questions, concerns or ideas.”

What came out of the charrettes? According to Lambert, residents shared pretty cohesive ideas about how neighborhoods interact with city government.

“The City Commission asked us to determine what a neighborhood is, and through that process we learned a lot about neighborhood associations in Birmingham. They work for some areas, but not for everyone,” Lambert explained. “That’s probably the most substantial element we’re looking at: how to define where those boundaries are located and establishing a better system for neighborhoods to be well represented in city decision making.”

He added that more equitable representation of neighborhoods could mean more equally distributed funds, so landscaping, public art and other considerations don’t land in a select few neighborhoods.

Visitors can hear more about the findings and potential solutions during the drop-in clinic, open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. July 8-10 at 225 S. Old Woodward Ave., the same storefront where the master plan charrettes were hosted.  DPZ Codesign representatives and city officials will be on hand to answer questions and collect more input.

For those who can’t head over to the drop-in clinic, there’s still a way to review and comment on the charrette findings. The second of three online surveys will be available through July 22 at the master plan website, thebirminghamplan.com. Respondents can answer questions about the proposals made during the charrette, and the input can help the project team to further shape the elements of the master plan.

In addition to the project website, hard copies of the survey can be found at Birmingham City Hall, the Baldwin Public Library, the Department of Public Services building and the city’s fire stations. Hard copy surveys can be returned to those spots too.

“We are pleased with how the citywide master plan has unfolded thus far,” Birmingham Planning Director Jana Ecker said in an email. “The city is looking forward to further input from the residents and stakeholders of Birmingham during the upcoming drop-In clinic.”

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