Hampton residents’ input sought on future of township

Sunday, October 6, 2019 | 12:01 AM

Gathering residential ideas on the future of Hampton was at the forefront of a town hall meeting on Sept. 25, another step in the process of creating an implementable comprehensive plan for the township.

Steering committee members, township administration and representatives of Pashek MTR, a landscape design firm in Pittsburgh, invited the public to attend the evening event for feedback and discussion. Pashek MTR was hired by the township as a consultant to help develop a new implementable comprehensive plan.

An alternative to a traditional comprehensive plan, this type focuses on real, relevant community issues; organizing the plan the way local officials and citizens think; and devising practical and workable recommendations, according to an October presentation to council by Jim Pashek of the Pashek firm.

Last month, two large bulletin boards were displayed at a community center meeting room, with each displaying one of the following questions: “How can Hampton Township improve?” and “What’s great about Hampton Township?”

Residents attending were asked to put their responses on yellow “sticky” notes, which they adhered to the appropriate question.

Responses to the improvements included ideas such as a deer cull, more greenspace, more sidewalks and bike lanes, changes to the Route 8 corridor, and maintaining a balanced budget, among other ideas.

“Great” items included schools, a small size of township, variety of sports, citizens having a voice, good police department and emergency medical services, a community center, availability of local businesses and more.

“This has been a great experience. We heard some great ideas,” said Pashek.

A township steering committee was integral in getting feedback from residents over this past year, including encouraging locals to complete a Hampton Township Community Quality of Life Questionnaire survey, which had more than 900 respondents, according to Elaine Kramer of Pashek. She said results of this will be available in the near future.

Kramer said the community was engaged in other ways, such as a Coffee Conversation with the township manager.

“This input is one of several forms of public engagement that contribute to the larger discussion about what is important to Hampton Township residents, and what are problems they’d like to see addressed, or strengths to build on in the next five to 10 years,” said Kramer.

Traditional “old school” plans were data heavy, and not always based on public input. After a plan was reviewed and submitted, it was a “hope” some of the plan’s goal would come to fruition, said Pashek at the October presentation. The plan was the goal, not the goals themselves, he said.

The comprehensive plan can be likened to blueprints for a new house, but instead of planning where to design bathrooms or bedrooms, they need to plan where or if to put in greenways, paths or other needs, said Pashek.

“Those are the kind of things we want to plan for in the future,” he said.

Pashek said they are also communicating with key community stakeholders in the community who might have a good idea of what Hampton needs for the future.

With all of the community feedback, they will start to see a common theme or trends of wants and needs, he said.

Tom and Ann Streyle of Middle Road who attended last month’s meeting said they liked the idea of town hall as it gives citizens a voice.

Tom said he thinks he can depend on elected officials to get the job done with the plan. But he did suggest the township introduce a nuisance tree ordinance, which would allow dangerous trees to be removed if needed.

Elaine Masters of W. Hardies Road said the event was wonderful and the township needs to build its community.

“This is the first time for me to sit down with people from the area,” she said, adding the need for public transportation from Route 8 to Pittsburgh and Butler.

An implementable comprehensive plan was part of the township’s 2020 Budget Goals and Objectives, specifically continuing to provide funding for its development. Funding will be planned for additional community out-reach, pop-up booths and possible mailings to township households, among other things.

“By and large, I think the town hall went well last week,” said Hampton Township Council President Mike Peters. “Most of the people I talked to found the meeting to be informative.”