It’s charrette time in Crystal River.
Following the success of last year’s virtual charrette focused on State Road 44, the city is hoping in-person meetings and open houses, combined with online interaction, will lead to an adoption of the city’s 50-year master plan.
The charrette is Monday, June 21, through Friday, June 25. There are numerous ways to participate. Here’s a little rundown of how it works.
Q: First off, what’s a charrette?
A: Charrette is an intense brainstorming session that involves all stakeholders in a project.
Q: Sounds complicated. Is it?
A: Not at all. In fact, it’s designed to simplify the input-gathering process while at the same time forming a vision of how something should be.
Q: Such as?
A: Such as the downtown area; the city’s main thoroughfares of S.R. 44 and U.S. 19; and redeveloping dilapidated shopping plazas into “town centers."
Q: Why is the city doing this?
A: In 2020, the city hired planning consultant Dover Kohl & Partners to assist the city in developing a 50-year master plan, starting with the charrette. COVID-19 delayed all but one part of it for one year.
Q: What was the one part?
A: When the state announced plans for resurfacing S.R. 44 between U.S. 19 and the RaceTrac, and those plans included a raised median, the city requested a chance to offer alternatives. The consultant led the city through a 3-day virtual charrette to receive ideas for what the “gateway to the city” should look like. After talks with the city, the state dropped the raised median plan.
Q: Will this charrette be virtual as well?
A: The June 21-25 charrette will be in-person, though there will also be virtual meetings where someone can participate without having to attend sessions in person.
Q: How does it work?
A: The consultants will give an overview to the city council on June 14, then spend two days touring the city and meeting with council members.
Q: When do the public meetings start?
A: The charrette kickoff is 6 p.m. Monday, June 21, at Crystal River High School.
Q: After that?
A: Three days — Tuesday, June 22, to Thursday, June 24 — of daily stakeholder meetings and open houses at the Crystal River Women’s Club.
Q: What are the topics?
A: It’s a variety, including transportation/mobility, downtown and waterfront, parking, shopping center redevelopment, historical preservation and environment. Meetings are scheduled in the mornings and afternoons those three days.
Q: Do I need to attend to participate?
A: No. One virtual meeting is scheduled for each of the three days.
Q: When does it conclude?
A: The closing presentation is 6 p.m. Friday, June 25, at the Crystal River Train Depot.
Q: Do I need to be a city resident to participate?
A: Not necessarily. Brian Herrmann, the city’s development services director, said the idea is to get input from anyone with a stake in Crystal River, including those who work in the city and live elsewhere, or frequently visit.
Q: How can I get involved?
A: Go to the project website, www.crystalrivercivicmasterplan.com, sign up and follow the prompts to leave comments. There’s also plenty of information on the process and the meeting days, times and locations.