Downtown CR

Crystal River's five-day charrette, which starts June 21, will include public discussion on the downtown area, such as Citrus Avenue, above.

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.

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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.

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com. To view more of his stories, go to www.tinyurl.com/y3bakm6w.

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