Market Street Plan Details Necessary Changes For Rogers

ROGERS -- Commute time was an item of concern for people who took a survey leading to development of the Vision 2030 plan for the Rogers-Lowell area.

The report was released Thursday. It was prepared by Market Street Services and is a project of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce and Rogers.

At A Glance

The Plan

The implementation schedule for the Market Street plan covers several years:

• 2015: Pre-implementation begins with formation of an implantation plan; incorporating final recommendations for the downtown plan; and a capital campaign by the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce.

• 2016: Initiation of the plan, and setting priorities, begins; hold quarterly meetings and hire to fill staff capacity gaps.

• 2017-2020: Implement the plan; hold a referendum on new bond issue; assess progress of plan.

Source: Staff Report

Web Watch

To read the plan go to: www.rogerslowellvis….

"There is a perception that we have a serious street congestion problem," said Mayor Greg Hines. "However, our mean travel time to work is the lower than the national average, and lower than that of metropolitan statistical areas roughly the same size as Northeast Arkansas."

In 2007, the mean travel time from home to work in Rogers was 16.3 minutes. By 2012, the time had increased by 0.5 seconds to 16.8 minutes to work, according to the report. The national average commute was 25.1 minutes in 2007 and 25.5 minutes in 2012.

"I got a pretty good chuckle about the commute times," said Mark Myers, a member of the Rogers Planning Commission. "We're spoiled. If we can't get there in 15 minutes or less, we complain. Try living in a really big city and see what the commute time is."

Hines and city officials understand the concern, but street improvements are always being planned.

"We will continue to build and improve roads to keep pace with growth. We have road project plans for the foreseeable future. As we move forward, sometime our priorities will change to meet new needs of the residents. Roads are always an ongoing project," Hines said.

The Vision 2030 plan lists 21 Rogers streets in need of improvement. The list isn't prioritized, said Matt Tarleton, a Market Street Services vice president.

Tarleton said Friday the list was compiled from information provided by residents who participated in an online survey, a focus group or were interviewed by Market Street officials.

Most of the street improvements listed as most critical are either in design or are on the street plan, said Lance Jobe, city engineer.

Construction of one of the projects -- widening Monte Ne Road from Gum Street to New Hope Road -- has begun. Widening Perry Road from 21st Street to Bellview Road is in the design phase as are widening First Street from Oak to Olrich street; construction of a new road from from the roundabout on Pauline Whitaker Parkway to Pleasant Grove Road; and widening Price Lane from Dixieland Road to Eighth Street.

Other street projects considered necessary, but not critical -- such as widening Walnut Street from two to three lanes from downtown to Lake Atalanta -- should be done between 2017 to 2025, according to the report.

Rogers growth is built on families moving to the area, according to the report. The size of families was 2.97 people 2012, larger than all of Northwest Arkansas at 2.65 people per household, or the national average of 2.63 people per household.

The Rogers birth rate was 47 babies born per 1,000 women, according to plan. The regional and national birth rate is 54 babies born per 1,000 women.

Those numbers caught John Burroughs' ear. He's director of the Rogers Historical Museum.

"Families are what we're all about. We need to do more to attract families in the future," Burroughs said.

The growing Hispanic population in the area -- 1 in 3 people living in Rogers is Hispanic -- doesn't appear to be a major problem, Hines said.

"In assessing the quality of life in Rogers, the Hispanics living here responded they felt welcome in Rogers, which is how it should be," Hines said.

Myers said he was pleased to learn that, economically, Hispanics are doing about as well as others.

"I was shocked when I learned we have so many people, white and Hispanic, who haven't graduated high school, or have a GED diploma. But, I also learned that without a diploma they were still able to make a living wage," Myers said.

An agency helping Hispanics start their own business should be established, according to the plan, which also encourages more leadership learning opportunities for Hispanics.

Downtown is a concern for many residents with most wanting downtown to be a gathering place, the civic and cultural heart of the city and a regional entertainment district, according to the report.

Among the suggestions listed:

• Finding investors and development partners to redevelop the historic Lane Hotel into a mixed-use anchor for downtown.

• Making downtown a walkable art gallery with storefronts displaying art.

• Expanding outdoor dining options, enhancing the farmers market and adding venues for live music.

"The economic development plan Gateway is preparing for the city should contain many of the answers to the recommendations made by the Market Street folks. We know how important downtown and Lake Atalanta is to the residents. I believe Gateway will provide us with a path to meet the needs of the city," Hines said.

Basics of the Gateway plan will be available for review Tuesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in City Hall, 301 W. Chestnut St.

NW News on 09/27/2014