The Mathis Economic Development Cooperation welcomed two project planners Nov. 29. The two will begin presenting ideas and thoughts about the downtown revitalization project, and will get feedback from numerous residents and city officials.

Race Hodges and Dr. John Jacob, who met EDC Director Doug Dowler earlier this year, gave a presentation showing how many other areas have revitalized their own towns and cities, and how Mathis can shape and mold its own future for its residents.

For 20 years, Texas A&M have been helping Texas communities deal with environmental planning issues that deal with hurricanes and flooding, mostly in the Houston area.

“Also, we have a side of our program that works with city planning, which is what I do,” Hodges said.

“We have been working over the past year with communities all up and down the Texas coast through a FEMA contract, and we’ve had around nine or 10 workshops to talk about how communities can use urban city planning to help create a community with a really strong sense of place.”

The duo talked about creating “smart growth,” which will allow more walkability throughout downtown and get it looking vibrant and welcoming. And they want to accomplish this with input from the community.

“In the future we’re going to have some supplemental meetings, the next of which is really going to be focused on extracting the local preferences, the local information, local knowledge and local history in order to come up with a vision for downtown that the city of Mathis wants,” Hodges continued.

“What John and I, and our colleagues at A&M, are going to be doing is helping steer and provide some guidance for how the vision of the planning process that we get from all of you, the public and business owners, and how this vision gets materialized.”

Dr. Jacob added, “Me and Race were driving around and we both agreed that there’s tremendous potential here.”

The locals in attendance spoke up about their enthusiasm on the idea that the men want to have the plans suit the people that already live here, and not build it up as a destination.

And if it suits the community and is a nice place to live, it will more than likely attract newer residents.

“It will, there’s no question, because it’ll be an interesting place,” Jacob continued. “But those of you that live here can stay here.

“You’ve got a real place, and you’re close enough to some real centers where there’s work and people can decide that they want to live here.

“I can find a job in Corpus and I can live close by because I need those grandparents to be baby sitters for me,” he added with a laugh.

“But there’s a lot of positives here.”

The project meeting, which is the first of many the EDC is planning, will be seeking as much feedback from the community as possible.

“We want that input,” Dowler said, addressing those in attendance. “Dr. Jacob and Race, they’d be happy to go and write their plan because they already know what they think we need. But they’re giving us the opportunity to give the input back and that’s totally valuable.

“Tell us what you want so that we can incorporate that into this plan here. The goal is to make Mathis the best place that there is to live.”

Dr. Jacob added, “It’s just getting that vision right to where things start taking off, but you’ve got to set the recipe for it. You have to decide what it is that you want.”

More planning meetings will be announced in the coming new year and deal with the residents thoughts and concerns about the downtown revitalization project.

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