The City of Greensboro Planning Department took suggestions for the future of Greensboro on Friday, Oct. 5, in Center City Park. The event, the first in what the city government is calling PLANIT GSO, was part of the monthly First Friday celebration.
PLANIT GSO is the marketing term for the process of updating the city Comprehensive Plan, the land-use plan that the Greensboro City Council amends regularly – any time a rezoning request the council passes is not in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan.
Maybe land-use planning can’t compete with entertainment. Maybe it was because someone scheduled the event at 5:45 p.m., the middle of Friday rush hour, in downtown Greensboro. But the PLANIT GSO event was barely noticeable from the street.
PLANIT GSO’s maiden voyage drew a few people, a few suggestions and a few kids playing with provided toys. It was also attended by Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and City Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter, Nancy Hoffmann, Justin Outling, Tammi Thurm and Goldie Wells.
Vaughan acknowledged that the comprehensive plan is a moving target.
“It was always meant to be a guideline,” she said. “I think it’s important to have a long-term plan to see where most of our growth is going to be and where to put our infrastructure.”
Vaughan said businesses want to see signs of planning before settling in a city. She said, “We don’t want to be rigid, but people deserve some expectations.”
Outling said he wants Greensboro to become the best mid-size city in the country. He said, “I want to develop a road map for making investments in the city.”
The Planning Department set up a city map on which park wanderers could post suggestions. Most were general and unrelated to zoning. Safety and transportation dominated.
One commenter wanted “all people from 7 to 70 to feel safe in our streets.” Another wanted to make Greensboro safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. “Slow down the cars,” the commenter wrote.
Other suggestions included more parks, more basketball courts downtown and making Greensboro “the place to be for young professionals.”
One passerby asked for a downtown trolley system, and another asked for a riverwalk. Greensboro lacks a river.
One more easily achievable suggestion the City Council could pursue: “a tiki bar.”
Thurm said she considered the input valuable. She said, “It’s the community’s plan, not the city’s plan.”