Forum On The Future

By WVUA 23 Reporter Keldreck Conwell and WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Savannah Bullard

A discussion about the future of the Druid City was held last night as part of “Forum on the Future.”

City leaders said they have a master plan for Tuscaloosa, revealing it Nov. 27 at the River Market. The event was not only for the community to hear, but citizens who attended gave their input on changes they would like to see.

“I came this evening because I want Tuscaloosa to be the best city possible,” citizen Tom Fanning said. “We’re already a great place to live but there are ways we can improve and we need to identify those and work on them together.”

Others want to see the city succeed, but are worried about making sure things are done in the best way possible.

“I’m concerned about our city,” citizen Rodney Pelt said. “The growth of our city, the under-served citizens of our city, I’m concerned about Tuscaloosa as a whole.”

A packed house of city leaders and community members took a seat at the round table to express the many changes they would like to see. The steering committee is a part of Framework, the City of Tuscaloosa’s method of updating and revitalizing the City Code and Comprehensive Plan. City officials have a consulting firm named “Next” from Ohio helping them explain their decisions and the research that supports them. It is a broad plan that touches on everything from infrastructure to entertainment.

The steering committee put together the Forum on the Future event in hopes of having citizens shape help shape their own community. Consultant Jamie Greene said it is about taking the voice of the people to steer the city of Tuscaloosa in the right direction.

“This is a choice that the leadership has made to allow this kind of process,” Greene said. “It’s not required by law, no one said you had to do it this way. They’ve chosen to make sure that anybody who cares about the city of Tuscaloosa has a choice, and this is one of those choices tonight.”

The forum focused on the future of the city, and many people from the area agree that the future is in the hands of the children. Tuscaloosa City Schools superintendent Mike Daria said it is time to put more focus on the city’s kids.

“For the direction of my community, for my children and my grandchildren, from a very personal perspective, that’s why I’m here,” Daria said. “But I’m also here from the education perspective because education serves as one of the cornerstones of a quality community.”

Mayor Walt Maddox said interacting with citizens from the surrounding areas played a major part in listening to their concerns.

“What does that mean for the people in Green Grove, what does it mean for the people on Elm Street, what does it mean for people on College Hills or Park Side or Woodland Forrest,” Maddox said. “It’s about finding out those concerns and finding out those ideas and then trying to make it happen.”

All in all, city leaders are pleased with the outcome of the event and are ready to take the ideas from the people and shape the growth of Tuscaloosa. Even the president and CEO of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce Jim Page took to Twitter to give his regards about the turnout.

{{tncms-inline type=”twitter” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-width="550" data-dnt="true">
<p lang="en" dir="ltr">I can’t say enough about tonight’s Forum on the Future. It was thoughtful, inclusive and time very well-spent with a diverse cross-section of this great community. Kudos to Mayor <a href="">@WaltMaddox</a> and the forward-thinking team at <a href="">@tuscaloosacity</a>. <a href="">#FrameWork</a> <a href="">#vision</a> <a href="">#collaboration</a> <a href=""></a></p>
<p>— Jim Page (@jimpagejr) <a href="">November 28, 2018</a></p></blockquote>”}}

The process, in tandem with the steering committee’s work throughout the year, will be used to create an updated comprehensive plan and a rewritten zoning code.

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