About 150 Planoites gathered in Haggard Park yesterday at 4pm to hear some “GREAT” news, as was teased by Facebook posts from the City of Plano. Citizens munched on goodies from Urban Rio, Amazeballz and Angela’s at the Crosswalk as they awaited the announcement. Free t-shirts were handed out. It appeared most everyone knew each other, from the friendly chatter that led up to the big announcement.
So just what was the big news? The American Planning Association has deemed downtown Plano one of the “Great Places in America.” In their decision, they considered factors such as the arts, the restaurants, the events, the shopping, the DART station, the new apartments, and the walkability of historic downtown Plano.
Along with several members of City Council, Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere accepted the award from the American Planning Association. Our Mayor proudly claimed, “Downtown now is the funkiest, coolest, and most eclectic part of the city and of North Texas.”
Chairman of the Downtown Plano Public Improvement District Bonnie Shea spoke about improvements in the area on behalf of the downtown Plano merchants, both those who’ve been in business for decades and those who have just moved into the area.
On behalf of the neighborhoods surrounding downtown, Pam Hatcher of the Haggard Park Neighborhood Association spoke about the changes she’s seen as a homeowner throughout the years. “I’ve been made a different person—and I would maintain a better person—for living in a place that was laid out before people had the four-wheeled means to distance themselves from their neighbors.” She emphasized the fact that neighbors in downtown Plano remained connected to each other as the rest of Plano grew.
Before the DART station arrived in downtown Plano in 2002 the area felt a little left-behind in the wake of west Plano’s rapid growth. But the efforts of city leaders and downtown Plano supporters led to the revitalization you can now see. As Pam Hatcher perfectly put it, “It took a lot of everybodies to make this happen: city planners, council and commission members, nonprofits, artists, business owners, TIF and DART board members who’ve all shown past, present and future faith in downtown Plano.”
As the gathering concluded, most of the attendees stood in front of the bandstand at Haggard Park for a group photo, a photo that contains the faces of the greatest advocates downtown Plano has most likely ever known.
Here’s why downtown Plano is great. It embraces the future without forgetting its past. Everyone who lives nearby knows it. Everyone who drives there or bikes there or walks there or DARTs there knows it. If you haven’t been to downtown recently to see it for yourself, you’re missing out.