Several community leaders in the Spring area have provided their input to Houston-Galveston Area Council's Livable Center Study, a plan that could provide a blueprint for infrastructure, beautification and economic development improvements when it is completed in September.

More than a dozen residents and community leaders were in attendance at a public workshop May 8 at Spring Woods United Methodist Church. Run by Design Workshop, a consulting firm with offices in Houston, the workshop allowed residents the chance to offer insight into the issues that most concerned them.

Design Workshop Rebecca Leonard said the study would focus primarily on FM 1960 and Kuykendahl Road and that the plan would create goals within the area that could include economic development, environmental and infrastructure improvements.

"Our goal as a company is to make these [goals] measurable and make them something you can track the progress of over time," Leonard said.

Residents in attendance at the workshop were polled on several different topics and provided feedback that will help the firm compile possible improvement options, Leonard said.

Participants suggested sidewalks, street furniture, refined parking lots and pathways as options to make the area more accessible to pedestrians. Leonard said improved walkability could help generate economic development in the region.

Attendees also preferred improved sidewalk coverage and improved bus stops as possible transportation alternatives to additional bike lanes.

"One piece of data we're in the process of collecting is sidewalks, and there are very few segments of sidewalks we're noticing," Leonard said.

Attendees also suggested more trees and parks to improve the area's environment. Improved streetscapes, increased feeling of security and improvements in residential and commercial properties were among the goals most valued by the participants.

"We have some ideas about ways of bringing more green space to your community," Leonard said. "That intersection of Kuykendahl [Road] and [FM] 1960 is a great opportunity because there's a lot of parcels that have vacant space there."

Leonard said the firm will begin analyzing the data in mid-May before a needs assessment meeting May 26. Design Workshop will implement a draft plan in late June and come back to the public with possible improvement options before completing the plan in September.

The Livable Center Study is the 18th H-GAC has worked on. Leondard said H-GAC expects its eight-county region to grow by 3.5 million people by 2035 and the region will need to plan for that growth.

"Exxon[Mobil] is brining 10,000 jobs-plus [to Spring]," Leonard said. "That's something we're going to have to face over time, and we need to explore options to accommodate that growth within the existing infrastructure that we have."

The study costs $120,000, of which $80,000 is being funded by H-GAC through federal money and $40,000 is being provided by the Ponderosa Forest MUD.

Barbara Thomason, president of the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce, attended the workshop and said the plan's timing is beneficial for the chamber, which is working on its own improvement plan in the region. The chamber recently formed two committees: one to create a fundraising campaign and one to provide more detail to the initial plan outline.

"The timing is rather ideal, because this report will be finished in September and our chamber will have our feasibility report," Thomason said. "I'm hoping our [improvement plan] can incorporate the information from this study."