By Lea Terry
Midwest City Beacon
Since November 2022, Del City has been working on a comprehensive plan that will guide the city for the next 20 years. Over the course of several meetings and public outreach efforts, and with the assistance of Halff and Associates, an engineering and architecture firm, the city has developed a draft that is geared toward revitalizing the city and providing residents a wider range of options from everything to housing to shopping to entertainment.
At the most recent joint meeting of the City Council and the Planning Commission on Oct. 12, city council members, planning commission members and city staff held an intensive study session to talk through the details of the plan and work toward completing a final draft.
“We value your opinions, that’s why you’re here, so please offer all of the input that you can,” said Ward 2 Councilwoman Pam Finch.
At the previous joint commission meeting, Nathlie Booth from Halff and Associates presented the plan to commission members, and while city officials liked many of the ideas, there was concern that some of the suggestions were better suited to larger cities.
As Ward 1 Councilman Michael Dean said before Thursday’s meeting, “She came from Texas and the plan is what she thought we want, because it’s what Texas wants.”
City Manager J.D. Hock also stressed that the plan needs to be economically feasible for a city of Del City’s size.
The commission broke up into three groups, holding multiple 40-minute discussion sessions where each group debated and discussed a specific portion of the plan and offered suggestions and recommendations. Many of the group’s proposals focused on creating a sense of community and building destinations and neighborhoods that are welcoming. Some of the suggestions included renovating the area around 29th and Epperly and transforming it into more of a “main street’ neighborhood.
Another major discussion focused on the best way to develop Eagle Lake to create a recreation and entertainment destination, for example creating an entrance that attracts attention and fits the character of the surrounding neighborhood, as well as adding restaurants, retail and potentially a hotel overlooking the lake.
For members of the council, planning commission and staff, the plan is an opportunity to guide the city through its own growth and the growth of the surrounding areas, and set the stage for future generations.
While acknowledging that times change, the members also felt it is important to preserve the city’s identity and develop a plan that encourages growth while also honoring the city’s legacy and history.
“Many people who started here are still here, and many people’s children and grandchildren are still in the family home,” said Del City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joshua Shultz.