Community feedback key to city's comprehensive plan

Projects to be selected based on residents' input

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As reconstruction efforts continue throughout Long Beach, officials are looking to create a more resilient and economically sustainable city. They began developing an updated Comprehensive Plan earlier this year that focuses on the town’s future.

The goal of the plan, officials said, is rebuilding and sustainability, emphasizing initiatives that residents deem most important. At a public information meeting on April 28 at the Magnolia Senior Center, officials shared aspects of the updated plan with residents and solicited feedback from them on the projects they would like to see in the future.

“I’m glad they’re doing this,” said resident Rachel Miller, who came to ask about plans to build an esplanade — a walking and sitting area similar to the boardwalk — near Reynolds Channel, to beautify the north side of the city. “I hope they’re taking some of the suggestions. It’s great that they’re asking about all kids of community issues.”

The city developed a comprehensive plan in 2007 that never got off the ground, officials said. Patricia Bourne, Long Beach’s director of economic development, said that the plan needed to be re-examined in light of the recent recession and the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

A push to shift the city to a 12-month economy has also necessitated an updated plan. The new one will deal not only with economic factors, but environmental issues, in the interest of preparing the city for another catastrophic storm. “We have to look more seriously at resiliency to protect our homeowners, businesses and infrastructure,” Bourne said.

A $25 million grant from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery will be earmarked for building up the bulkheads on the north shore in accordance with the city’s Community Reconstruction Plan, she explained, adding that Sandy aid money would not cover all of the reconstruction projects the city would undertake, and that the comprehensive plan would help prioritize them. Once the plan is in place, the city will apply for more state and federal funding.

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