Waco City Plan 2040: An idea for the Future Grandparents of Waco…

By Ashley Bean Thornton

My Facebook feed is full of babies right now:  Girl babies, boy babies; bald babies, hairy babies; laughing babies, serious babies, crying babies; every shade and shape of baby!  I am in awe everyday of all of these beautiful ears and toes and tiny fingers, all these little eyes taking everything in, all these little brains growing and growing! Hooray for all these babies!

This post is for the parents of those babies.  It’s hard for you to imagine now, but in 2040 these babies you are holding in your arms today will be 24, 25, 26 years old.  Many of them will be finished with college, getting married and having babies of their own.  Congratulations Grandma and Gramps, or GiGi and Big Pop, or Ona and Gumbo…you’re soon to be grandparents! (Well, in 24 years or so, anyway!)

My question for you today, new parent/future grandparent, is what kind of Waco do you want for your grandchild?  I’m asking you this because that future Waco we get depends to some extent on the decisions we make today.  If you want that grandbaby to be playing under nice shade trees, we need to plant those saplings now!

Those trees are important, and they aren’t the only things we need to be thinking about.  Where will your grandchildren live?  Will they be able to walk to school?  Will they have a beautiful diversity of friends to play with?  Will there be a park nearby? Will their parents be spending hours a day commuting back and forth to work? Will they be able to find work in Waco? Will the air be clean?  Will they have good water to drink? Will you be able to find an affordable place to live nearby so you can help out with raising them?

I’m sorry new parents/future grandparents – I know you are way, way too sleep deprived to be thinking about all of this right now! Luckily, the City of Waco Planning Office has already been doing some of the thinking for you.  They have scoured pages and pages of reports and studies and strategic plans that have been developed by different groups and organizations throughout Waco these last several years (Imagine Waco, The Upjohn Report, Prosper Waco, to name just a few), and have worked really hard to pull it all together into one document: The City Plan: Waco Comprehensive Plan 2040.   That plan is now available on their website for you to review.  They are even still taking comments till August 5.

The plan is pretty long though, over 90 pages in fact .  And, no offense to the city planners, but I have to say it is a little…ummm… dry.  Buried in those charts and graphs and all that planner-speak, though,  are some important ideas for building a terrific hometown for your future grandbabies!  And that terrific future Waco isn’t going to build itself!  We all need to be informed about the comprehensive plan, because we are all going to have to help build the future city it describes.

Still, I sympathize with your dilemma.  You want to be a great, informed citizen and build that future for your grandbabies…if only you could get your current baby to go  to sleep!

Here’s an idea: read the city plan to your baby at bedtime!   Voila! Multi-tasking at its best!  Maybe this little excerpt will get you started, and inspire you to read more of the plan…to yourself and to your baby! With apologies to Dr. Seuss…

Waco City Plan 2040 (Bedtime Version)

Hello sweet baby!  I wish you would sleep!
If you would start snoozin’, off to bed I could creep!
You won’t close your eyes!  You’re still crying! Oh man!
Would this calm you down? It’s the new City Plan…

The overall goal is “make Waco sustainable.”
This goal will take work, but we think it’s obtainable!
We must make decisions we can live with right now,
and they must make good sense for YOUR future, but how?

Economic development is one good place to start –
We’ve got lots of colleges, with kids who are smart…
Let’s use them as bait for good jobs with high pay,
Then maybe our smart college grads will all stay!

And when they all stay, they’ll want fun stuff to do!
They’ll want music and culture and arts, wouldn’t you?
So investing right now in these things is essential,
And maybe downtown should be more residential…

If this all works out, we will grow, yes we will,
And one trick to really smart growth is in fill!
By “in fill” we mean live and work close together.
There’s all kinds of reasons together is better!

When we’re all spread apart it just costs more to serve us,
Sprawling and sprawling should make us all nervous.
It uses up gas, all those roads cost a bunch…
When we live close together we can just walk to lunch!

And speaking of walking, let’s talk transportation…
A subject that stirs up a heap of frustration!
You don’t have a car?  Too bad! That’s tough luck!
You can’t get to work or the store – you’re just stuck!

Bus rapid transit would help quite a bit,
And bike lanes and sidewalks just might be a hit!
We could build a good network for non-auto modes,
That new fangled thinking would help us out loads!

Hey sweet little baby, don’t fall asleep yet!
There’s a whole chapter here on environ-ment!
I still haven’t read you the part about housing,
The utilities section is really quite rousing…

Sweet dreams little one, rest your head and sleep tight…
I guess that’s enough City Plan for one night.
That’s right, nighty-night! You can lay your head down,
Count on us, Waco baby – to  build you a great town!

Ashley Thornton - love youThis Act Locally Waco blog post is by Ashley Bean Thornton, she works at Baylor, helps out with Act locally Waco, and facilitates the Waco Foundational Employment Network which is a part of Prosper Waco.  She likes to walk and doesn’t mind at all if you honk and wave when you see her.

 The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

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