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Duarte Embraces Long-Range City Plan

June 19, 1988|SIOK-HIAN TAY KELLEY | Times Staff Writer

DUARTE — A plan proposed by 70 residents to guide the city during the next 20 years won unanimous approval from the City Council last week.

Commending participants for their eight-month effort, Councilman John Fasana described the plan as "a tremendous tool we can use as a resource in formulating policy and in the General Plan."

The residents, appointed by the council to five task forces, set goals for the city in such areas as the environment, cultural affairs and economic development.

Their recommendations included moving the library to the Civic Center and acquiring property for greater commercial development along Buena Vista Street, where the city's major off-ramp from the 210 Freeway is located.

Dubbed "Duarte Resurgence--Concept to Reality" when it was launched in September, the plan was revised several times after public hearings. Provisions of the plan may be incorporated into budget proposals, revisions of Redevelopment Agency plans and an update of the city's General Plan to be considered this fall.

"(The plan) is a vision of how things could be. . . . It is only suggestions," said real estate agent Robert Wight, vice general chairman of the project. He told the council that it was now "up to city boards to wrestle with these recommendations."

Duarte is the first city of its size in the Los Angeles area to complete such a strategic plan, according to John Parker, who designed the project and teaches a graduate course in strategic planning at California State University, Long Beach.

Parker, an associate dean at the university's Center for Public Policy and Administration, praised the effort. "Just reacting to changes is not a good way of responding to the future," he said, adding that more cities are considering working out similar plans.

Of the five task forces, the economic development group had some of the livelier debates, Wight said. When discussing "the optimum utility of property, you get (into controversial issues such as) condemnation," he said.

The plan suggests that zoning requirements be relaxed to help attract commercial developers.

To "sustain future financial capabilities," the plan also recommends that the city set aside 10% of annual revenues for a contingency reserve fund, beginning with the 1988-89 fiscal year.

The city was urged to develop a disaster preparedness plan by December and refurbish the San Gabriel River bridge to connect the Duarte bicycle and equestrian trail with the San Gabriel River trail.

The plan also recommends that utilities throughout the city be placed underground.

It suggested that the city and the Chamber of Commerce produce a newsletter to keep businesses informed about developments in the retail market.

According to Wight, even though "the majority came in with a pet want or gripe," the process proved to be an eye-opener for participants as they toured city facilities and studied programs as part of their research.

"They can appreciate more of what the community has to offer," he said, noting that some of the participants were amazed by the range of recreational and educational programs available.

Said participant Karen Smith, who is a member of the city's Economic Development Commission: "At first you feel uneasy (about speaking up), but it was such an informal group and you care so much about the city. . . . It was a lot of fun."

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