‘Who is Kilgore going to be in 2030?’

That’s the question on many minds at Kilgore City Hall, and they’re hoping to put it to residents during a Community Open House at 6 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Old Post Office downtown.

It’s part of the initial data-gathering phase for the city’s new comprehensive plan, which “guides the growth and development of the city ... the priorities identified in the plan will influence where new homes, businesses and amenities are built in Kilgore,” according to city planners.

It’s estimated to take at least a year, and the open house town meeting is an essential early step as the plan’s advisory committee looks down the road to 2030.

“That’s a short 10 years away. We’re going to blink, and we’ll be there,” Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck said. “It marks the 100th anniversary of the boom, essentially. We’ve been many things throughout the 100 years since  the boom, who are we going to be at that 100th anniversary?”

Right now, the advisory committee and city staffers are focused on getting the word out about the comprehensive plan and the early stages of its development. They’ve launched a Facebook event for the Aug. 22 open discussion; they’re also pointing locals to the comp plan’s website, available via tinyurl.com/KilgoreCompPlan.

“The community meeting sits at the tail-end of three days of interviewing different stakeholder groups in the community,” Selleck said. “There are 30-some groups of people.”

According to Kilgore Planning Director Carol Windham, that includes civic organizations, local developers, school board members, Kilgore College trustees, Gregg and Rusk County commissioners, industrial representatives and more.

“It is 30 groups that really represent just about everybody from the community. Each one of these stakeholder groups has their own unique set of questions as well as the opportunity to ask them the fixed questions about Kilgore as a whole,” Selleck said. Granted, “We have 15,000 residents, so we can’t interview everyone like that,” hence the need for the open house event at the Old Post Office. “We’re pairing that up with a chamber event (see page 4) that will be across the street as well as a downtown event that will be taking place at the same time. Our thought was to try to capture people who may be out for something else and get some feedback from them.

“We’re interested in resident feedback at this town hall meeting. If out of town folks want to come and give input on what Kilgore should be, we won’t turn them away necessarily, but obviously we’re looking for input from people who live here or want to live here.”

Those who participate in the meeting can put their name in a drawing to receive a Kilgoreites-only prize.

“The planning department will be sponsoring a $100 credit to their water bill. We’ll be giving away two of those at the open house,” Selleck said. “We’ll do a survey instrument after this. Our goal is to incentivize our residents to give that feedback.”

The comprehensive plan steering committee includes Harvey McClendon, Kilgore City Council member; Ronnie Spradlin, Kilgore mayor; David Barrett, Planning and Zoning Board; Chip Hale, Kilgore Community Development Corporation; Bryan Johnston, Kilgore Economic Development Corporation; Dr. Andy Baker, Kilgore ISD superintendent; Dr. Brenda Kays, Kilgore College president; Jerry Camp, Kilgore Historical Preservation Foundation; Bill Woodall, Kilgore Main Street; and Jill McCartney, Kilgore Chamber of Commerce.

City of Kilgore staff liaisons to the committee are Carol Windham, director of planning; Josh Selleck, city manager; Sonya Waters, community relations manager; Clay Evers, director of public works; Amanda Nobles, KEDC executive director; and B.J. Owen, director of special services.

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