Ready to Plan Together? Here’s how to get the most from our workshop, September 8-14

Look who’s coming to the party:

The staffs and elected officials of two historic West Virginia towns; a consulting team of more than 30 specialists in design and planning across a half-dozen disciplines; officials from three federal agencies; and property owners, business people and citizens from throughout the region.

All will be participants in the weeklong collaborative workshop that kicks off at 7 p.m. on September 8 at Washington High School. By the concluding presentation on September 14, there will be a consensus-driven first draft of plans to meet the challenges and to seize the opportunities the future brings to the Ranson/Charles Town area.

The Ranson Renewed project area, as viewed from the air. Click for larger view.

You don’t want to miss it. Check out the sessions in person. Or just follow along on these web pages. We’ll keep you up to date. Here’s everything you need to know.

First, peruse the overall goals of the planning project in the column to the immediate right. As you can see, this is one of those rare opportunities to consider all the elements of community sustainability — environmental, societal, economic — all at once. Even better, we’ll do it via a compact, fast-tracked process that brings everyone to the table at the same time. No waiting to see results.

The process is made possible through $1.4 million in federal grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Learn more about the federal policy initiative that encourages this sort of comprehensive planning here.

The workshop is designed so you can enter directly into planning, putting your ideas on the table to be tested and critiquing the team’s progress as plans evolve through the week. On most days, especially in the first half of the workshop, there are multiple opportunities to jump into the conversation. But you don’t have to show up every day. Pick the spots where you can catch up and offer your encouragement and suggestions along the way.

If you only have two or three hours to devote to the workshop, drop by the opening presentation on September 8, follow the progress here on the website, then come to the closing event on the evening of September 14.

Want to make sure your views are expressed on key issues? Pick out the topic or topics that especially engage you and attend those sessions. For instance:

On Friday, September 9, the consulting team will be listening to community folks talk about ambitions for the Charles Washington Commuter Center (9:00 a.m.); the Fairfax Blvd.-George St. corridor (10:30 a.m.); the regional economy (1 p.m.); and real estate development (3 p.m.). All meetings are at the Anna M. Reedy Senior Center on West 5th Ave.

On Saturday, September 10, the topic will be Old Town (10:00 a.m.), also at the Senior Center. Then, at 1 p.m., members of the design team will lead a tour of the historic building that will become the Charles Washington Commuter Center.

On Sunday night, September 11, the team offers a show-and-tell session 7 p.m. at the Independent Fire Hall. This is where you see the planners’ and designers’ work in progress and weigh in with corrections, additions and at-a-boys. Tuesday night at 7 at the Charles Town City Hall, there will be a joint session of the Ranson and Charles Town City Councils for a public progress report. Then on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Old Opera House comes the wrap-up presentation from the team.

Questions and comments? Use the space below.

Let’s keep the conversation going.

See you on September 8.