Destination: Bell Boulevard community outreach effort wins statewide award
Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers awards the TAMI to the City of Cedar Park for Bell Boulevard Project Marketing Plan/Campaign
The City of Cedar Park’s Destination: Bell Boulevard campaign has been named the Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers’ 2016 TAMI Award Winner for cities of similar size in the Marketing Plan or Campaign category. The goal of the campaign – launched in late 2014 and still ongoing – is to increase community awareness, engagement and participation in creating the Bell Boulevard Redevelopment Master Plan to revitalize the City’s oldest commercial hub and primary north-south corridor. The project is one of City Council’s top priorities.
Mayor Matt Powell underscored the Project’s significance when City Council unanimously passed the plan last August, saying, “This will, over time, be one of the biggest projects in the City’s history. We have attended meetings with seasoned real estate investors in the Austin area, and the feedback we get is that this really can work if you stick to it. I’d like to think we have the courage to do it.”
Place One Council Member Stephen Thomas added, “This is something that is going to be significant for the City and protect its interests. A project like this is huge. It’s exciting.”
The recent TAMI Award for Marketing Plan or Campaign lauded the City of Cedar Park’s outreach efforts that drew hundreds of community members to attend and participate in planning meetings, surveys and a live Pinterest page. The resulting community vision, which actually relocates a portion of the highway, opens up 40 acres for a connected walkable mixed-use development that joins with a nearby nature area – all with the goal of creating a true destination.
Assistant City Manager Katherine Caffrey, who oversees the Bell Boulevard Redevelopment Project, says the City’s community engagement efforts led to a true collaboration between the City and residents and business owners to create an informed Master Plan.
Caffrey says, “I’m proud of how our team engaged the community throughout the process of creating this plan. The open houses were some of the most highly-attended public meetings we have ever held, and the feedback we received there and through our surveys was invaluable. Participants showed a tremendous amount of interest in the project, and their input helped us create an informed plan that we believe reflects our community’s vision.”
Caffrey, with City Manager’s Office Executive Coordinator Penny Ewell, Media and Communications Manager Jennie Huerta, Media and Communications Specialist Mauro Lopez and Audio-Video Technician Angel Interial were recognized with the award for effectively executing their communications objectives and tactics – which included targeted use of social media, advertising, the website www.DestinationBellBlvd.com, and media relations to promote public awareness and involvement in the project. All marketing concepts, web design, graphic art and video production (including the Bell in a Nutshell video) were created in-house by City of Cedar Park Media and Communications staff.
In addition to the TAMI Award for Marketing Plan or Campaign, the Bell Boulevard Redevelopment Project was recognized with the American Planning Association’s 2016 Vernon Deines Honor Award for outstanding Small Town Special Project Plan. The City of Cedar Park and its project partner, Design Workshop, were recognized at the APA’s national conference in April for the master plan and development’s breadth of community outreach techniques, high degree of community involvement and overall user-friendliness of the master plan document.
Caffrey says, “To be recognized by our peer communities on both a state and a national level is a great honor and it has helped re-energize our team to continue leveraging creative and cutting-edge ways to engage the community as the next steps of this project unfold.”
The Bell Boulevard Redevelopment Project is a multi-year, multi-phase project. Phase 1 Transportation projects related to Bell Boulevard were approved as part of the Streets and Roads measure in the November 2015 Bond Election. The City is in the process of selecting an engineer for the road alignment portion of the project. Once an engineer is selected, design work is expected to take 18 to 24 months. Updates and future community engagement opportunities will be shared on www.DestinationBellBlvd.com.
More about Bell Boulevard
Bell Boulevard, also known as US Highway 183, has long been the “backbone” of Cedar Park. As the community has grown and evolved through the decades, Bell Boulevard has remained the primary north-south corridor for the city. Bell Boulevard was once a vital community hub, but the commercial area has experienced a steady decline over the last several decades. Following community members’ expressed desires during the 2014 comprehensive planning process to see Bell Boulevard revitalized as a thriving commercial corridor with its own unique identity and special charm, the City of Cedar Park embarked on the process of creating a new Master Plan for Bell Boulevard.
The redevelopment master plan consists of two phases. Phase 1 focuses on road realignment and other transportation improvements, as well as the development of Buttercup Creek Natural Area. Phase 2 focuses on the remaining western portions of the shopping streets, walkable blocks and a parkway road and bridge connecting to the Buttercup Creek Natural Area.