The city’s 2035 Task Force Tuesday talked about attracting higher-paying headquarters jobs and creating a more walkable community as being keys for developing a 20-year comprehensive plan.
“I want to improve our averages,” said Murfreesboro City Councilman Rick LaLance, who is part of a task force that gathered for its first meeting with many other city officials on the fifth floor of Pinnacle Bank on College Street in the downtown area.
Hoping to create a new comprehensive plan to replace one crafted in 1984, the task force and other city leaders are providing input about future economic development, housing, parks and recreation services, transportation and other quality of life concerns to consulting firm Kendig Keast Collaborative.
The input is supposed to help the consulting firm from Sugarland, Texas, prepare a comprehensive plan in the next 18 to 24 months for a fast-growing Murfreesboro that will add 75,000 to 85,000 people in the next 20 years to a U.S. Census estimated population of 117,044 in 2013.
The consultants and city representatives also will seek input from the community from residents, business owners and city leaders during a meeting with workshops at 6:30 p.m. at World Outreach Church, 1921 New Salem Highway.
The consultants will provide information during a joint meeting with the Murfreesboro City Council and the Murfreesboro Planning Commission at 5 p.m. Thursday in Council Chambers at City Hall, 111 W. Vine St.
If the city is going to attract higher-paying jobs that will entice younger people to want to stay here, it will need to make Murfreesboro a more walkable community, said Aaron Tuley, who is one of the consultants with Kendig Keast Collaborative.
Neighborhoods within a short walk to fine-grade commercial and retail businesses, such as a deli or a coffee shop, are what younger adults want more than living in a big city with a professional sports team, Tuley said.
Corporations look for cities that offer attractive places to live for their workers because they’re more likely to retain them, said Tuley, noting how Dell Computer chose to leave Houston and relocate to the more attractive quality of life offered by Austin, Texas.
Murfreesboro City Manager Rob Lyons assured the Task Force that the city already has the key ingredients to entice a corporation into locating a headquarters here.
“We got it all,” Lyons said.
The city’s development of the Gateway area in particular has enabled Murfreesboro to compete for higher-paying jobs, said City Councilman Ron Washington, who is also on the Task Force.
Washington said part of the reason Franklin was able to lure the Nissan headquarters to the Cool Springs area is because the city invested in infrastructure.
In addition to recruiting headquarters, the city should also do what it can to help people start and expand businesses in Murfreesboro such as the way Chattanooga does through its incubator initiative, said Task Force member Ross Bradley, who is a vice president of TDK Construction Company Inc. in Murfreesboro.
“Grow what’s already here,” Bradley said.
The comprehensive plan also must examine what exists rather than only look at the open green spaces on Veterans Parkway on the far west side of Murfreesboro and other newer roads, Washington said.
“I just want to see the process being inclusive and don’t forget about the older parts of town,” said Washington, who grew up near the city’s Public Square area that dates back before the Civil War. “They have challenges. We’ve been here a long time, and we’re not going away.”
Tuley promised that the consultants will examine the entire city in crafting a comprehensive plan they hope the city will adopt by May 9, 2016.
The plan will also examine infrastructure and storm water drainage to ensure the city can take care of its projected growth, Tuley added.
Task Force member Bill Jakes also talked about the importance of having a vibrant historical downtown area that’s bounded by public housing and nearby student housing. He said if the housing is not well maintained it can lead to crime.
Jakes also recalled how people used to walk to two or three grocery stores in the downtown area, but it’s difficult to bring back such businesses because of regulations on land development.
“Is zoning serving us?” asked Jakes, who works as a real estate agent for Exit Realty, which is owned by Bob Lamb, the chairman of the Murfreesboro Planning Commission.
Tuley also promised the consultants would examine the city’s zoning regulations to see if any of them are restricting growth.
Economic growth will come to Murfreesboro, Tuley said, but city leaders should guide it through economic development that will “keep young people excited and wanting to live here.”
Shared from Daily New Journal