Written by Emma Jones // Graphic by Cooper Turman
Searcy held an open planning meeting on Oct. 4 in conjunction with consulting firm Crafton Tull to gain community insight in the first step to forming a 20-year plan for the city. A total of 313 people attended.
The Searcy City Council had discussed for some time hiring an outside consultant to form a city plan and voted in May to hire Crafton Tull, a civil engineering and consulting firm based out of Little Rock, Arkansas.
City council member David Morris, who previously served as mayor of Searcy for two terms, said the firm came highly recommended.
“They have a wonderful reputation, and they’re very knowledgeable,” Morris said. “I think they’ll do an excellent job.”
Morris said some people have asked why a plan with such a long time frame is needed. He said 20 years may seem like a long time, but is needed to help the future generations of Searcy.
“To me, one of the most important aspects of this 20-year plan is planning the infrastructure as Searcy grows,” Morris said.
The city planning meeting was held at the Carmichael Community Center and was formatted with interactive booths that allowed community members to give input on what they wanted to see for the city’s infrastructure, biking and walking trails, and park system. The event also had a kid zone and an area outside the center with bounce houses and hamburgers.
“We really wanted as many people as possible from the community to come, so we tried to make it more than just a boring meeting,” Searcy public relations manager Michelle Pugh said.
Crafton Tull will take the information gained from the meeting and use it to make an official city plan, a process that should take about a year, city planning and development director Richard Stafford said. He said there will also be a few more forum-style community meetings to touch on specific topics from the Oct. 4 meeting that may need more clarification or input.
“This is hopefully going to give us an idea that’s community based, that gives us plans and ideas for the future,” Stafford said. “I hope it’s something that the community can
all get behind because they were the ones that gave input.”
Dr. James Huff, associate professor of engineering and Honors College fellow, said he appreciated the interactive nature of the planning session.
“From a user perspective, it’s a great way for a lot of people to engage and provide insight,” Huff said.