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City hires UTA to form master plan

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, December 19, 2018
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To help map its future, the city of Rhome is turning to students at UT-Arlington for help.

The Rhome City Council Thursday agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to hire the university’s College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs to prepare a master plan for the city.

The city will pay UTA $15,600 for developing the plan that will include analysis of its infrastructure, community assets, projected future growth and plans for implementing future needs.

Alan Klein, assistant director for the Institute of Urban Studies, said graduate students will be using the newest theories from the classroom to create a community-based plan for Rhome.

“They will come up with what is essentially a road map for the city and development,” Klein said.

The UTA faculty will be overseeing the students’ work, which was a big selling point mentioned by Rhome City Administrator Joe Ashton.

“We’re paying for the students’ time, but we’re getting Alan and the other faculty’s expertise and experience for free,” Ashton said.

The city last prepared a comprehensive plan in 1999, according to Mayor Michelle Pittman di Credico.

She said she’s looking forward to seeing the work of the students in the coming year. The timeline in the MOU had a start date of February with the plan ready for final presentation in August.

“It’s a good opportunity for the students and a way to get some quality work with the oversight of the faculty that has all the experience,” di Credico said. “In the long run, we save a little bit of money.”

A big part of forming the plan will be the community involvement. The initial step in creating the plan is forming a steering committee to define the boundaries of the study area. The steering committee will be working with the students: to assess the history, economy and sociodemographic characteristics of the city; identify places of interest and areas in disrepair; study deficiencies in existing land-use; and reviewing street layouts.

Council members said forming a dedicated steering committee will be a critical part of the plan. Mayor Pro Tem Elaine Priest said the council will also need to be prepared for extra meetings.

The second phase of the planning will be community engagement meetings and an online survey. UTA students will hold four onsite meetings starting with the initial analysis. The second will follow the survey. The third meeting will be a design workshop and the final one to present the plan.

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