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Monday, December 18, 2006

Farewell to Frels, Wilson

Today@Sam: Work is well under way toward removal of the Wilson and Frels dorms from the center of the SHSU campus. On Monday a piece of heavy machinery sorted through what was left of Wilson. Frels is scheduled for the same fate in the next few days.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Museum Complex Cabin Comes With Famous Name

Daniel Boone's log cabin is being restored at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum complex on the Sam Houston State University campus.

Actually, the cabin was built about 1848 by Daniel Boone Guerrant, a pioneer Walker County settler. It was located about 11 miles out of Huntsville, near the west fork of the San Jacinto River, and moved to the museum grounds in the spring of 2004.

The museum recently received a donation of $1,248.34 from the Texas Society, Children of the American Revolution, to be applied toward the project's expense, which is expected to run about $25,000.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Item: Report targets SHSU, downtown

Stewart Smith
Staff Reporter
December 01, 2006 11:58 pm

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Judging by the input from consultants, Sam Houston State University and Huntsville’s downtown will be the epicenter of the city’s growth.

During Thursday evening’s Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee Expanded (CPAC(X)) meeting, consultants continued their declaration of the importance of downtown and the university as vital resources for economic development and as driving forces behind transportation improvements and modifications.

Tom Stellman, president and CEO of Austin-based consulting firm TIP Strategies, described SHSU as “an economic priority.”

“We’re not telling you anything you probably don’t already know, but it needs to be said. Having a university of the caliber of Sam Houston State ... is your biggest economic asset,” said Stellman.

Stellman said economic development leaders should support SHSU-generated entrepreneurship and recommended the development of a university/business alliance that would leverage university faculty and institutional expertise in assisting existing employers, startups and entrepreneurs in Huntsville.

Stellman also recommended creating job placement programs for current students and recent graduates to find local career options in an effort to retain and attract the university’s alumni population.

As for downtown, Stellman recommended it become established as an entertainment and cultural district, capitalizing on downtown’s “authenticity” to set it apart from other communities.

He also suggested downtown be promoted as a destination for business services and even entrepreneurial startups.

“View the downtown as your business park, in a sense,” Stellman said. “Sell it as a destination for folks who are going to bring in and employ people.”

As for transportation, Gary Mitchell, a principal with Kendig Keast Collaborative Inc., began his discussion of transportation strategies with the eyebrow-raising statement that traffic is a “good thing.”

“We’ve worked in a lot of communities that would love to have the traffic and parking problems that you have,” Mitchell said, indicating that said problems are representative of a growing community.

However, with traffic and parking comes the burden of finding ways to relieve them.

Several of these solutions, Mitchell said, are not going to be desirable.

“Take a look at 11th Street ... road widening, or in some other downtown areas, take out the parking so we can get more lanes and get rid of that conflict of cars pulling in and out,” Mitchell said. “TxDOT has recommended going to parallel parking versus angled parking.

“Some of these solutions are worse than the problem, so you’ve got that challenge also.”

However, Mitchell did say Huntsville is in decent shape in terms of overall traffic circulation but with a few specific “choke points” that need to be addressed.

A transit system and improved bike and pedestrian amenities was also recommended as a viable solution to traffic and parking congestion, especially because of the market demand created by university students.

Transportation, Mitchell said, also ties directly into other areas of the comprehensive plan such as economic development and land usage.

With downtown becoming more and more active with businesses and commerce, traffic will increase there creating parking issues which ultimately becomes an issue of land use.

Other significant goals, objectives and notable points made at the meeting include the following:

• Leverage the presence of TDCJ in Huntsville to support the expansion of existing businesses and attract new businesses to the community.

• Encourage TDCJ to evaluate its presence in the downtown area.

• Establish a formal incentives policy that recognizes the value of existing businesses in Huntsville.

• Support the development of attainable housing to ensure area employees can live inside the community.

• Promote the development of higher-end housing in the Huntsville area.

• Promote development patterns that are pedestrian friendly and encourage transit use.

• Implement access management and other transportation system management measures to help increase capacity along constrained roadways and maintain capacity in the community.