City of Montgomery seeks to create master plan for historic downtown district

Plans for a refreshed streetscape are in the works for Montgomery.

The Montgomery Planning and Zoning Commission discussed how to move forward with a downtown master plan at its July 23 meeting, deciding to create a core planning committee to help prioritize improvements. The committee will include groups of locals such as business owners, residents and historians.

A survey of at least 15 questions is expected to go out to the local downtown business owners and Montgomery residents in early September for input on the plans, officials said.

This comes after a July 10 resolution from the Texas Department of Transportation requesting the commission coordinate with the Texas A&M University's Community Resilience Collaborative to produce a downtown comprehensive plan. The goal is to produce a walkability and development plan extending along Hwy. 105 and through historic downtown.

The Community Resilience Collaborative, a research program providing technical assistance for community planning, and its group of landscape architecture graduate students is helping with the designs along with Jones & Carter, a full-service engineering and surveying firm based in The Woodlands.

“This is something that’s been discussed for several years and brought to a head because of the FM 149 construction project,” Montgomery City Administrator Jack Yates said.

“To my mind, streetscape design is to promote safety, attract pedestrian uses, encourage visitors from downtown areas and beyond the city, recognize cultural areas and the historical significance of the area [and] encourage redevelopment and rehabilitation to the existing historical environment,” Yates said.

Yates said he envisions pedestrian plaza areas, street corners with art, plants, trees, bushes, decorative lights, benches and wayfinding signs.

“Everybody keeps forgetting Montgomery is 4 square miles, not 2 square blocks, and those people need to be involved, too,” P&Z member William Simpson said at the meeting. “[The masterplan] should be put out to people who want to be involved—the arbor club was one of the main concerns: who is going to maintain this and absorb costs of maintaining these flowers, plants and trees?”

Yates said the commission should invite everyone who owns property downtown to several meetings after sending out the questionnaire to find out what they think downtown needs to thrive.

“Some people think trees are great; other people think they get in the way of seeing the business,” Yates said.

The plan is anticipated to take nine to 15 months and cost $20,000.
By Jules Rogers
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Jules Rogers has been covering community journalism and urban trade news since 2014. She moved to Houston in June 2018 to become an editor with Community Impact Newspaper after four years of reporting for various newspapers affiliated with the Portland Tribune in Oregon, including two years at the Portland Business Tribune. Before that, Jules spent time reporting for the Grants Pass Daily Courier in Southern Oregon. Her favorite beats to cover are business, economic development and urban planning.