The public is invited to share ideas and opinions regarding how waterfront property along the Blackwater River should be developed over the next few years during a public meeting this Thursday.

"We've been hired by the city to look at the future of the riverfront area," said Paul Carabott, senior urban designer for the design. "The meeting is basically a hands-on session, or a workshop where people can mark up maps and add input to the study."

Peter J Smith & Company, Inc. was hired about six weeks ago to perform a study of the Blackwater Riverfront and develop an attainable, long-term master plan. The New York firm will take the public's suggestions into consideration while they craft a design for the area.

The study is looking at long-term development possibilities along the riverfront from Carpenters Park in Milton to Forsyth Street in Bagdad on the Milton City-side of Blackwater River, according to City Manager Brian Watkins.

As part of the research phase of the project, the firm will be conducting several focus groups to draw input from local leaders, says Carabott. There will be representatives from three different groups: business and tourism; culture and recreation; and a group of members of the military will add their input to the conceptual design.

"At this point, we're not far along in the study," Carabott said. "The first presentation of a concept of ideas and a theme will happen at a later meeting."

The firm has taken a lot of inventory, regarding properties and locations and has done a lot of field work, according to Carabott.

The city has formed a steering committee to help guide the process. The eight-person committee is comprised of representatives from the city, the county and Bagdad, according to Watkins.

The study is funded with $15,000 from the city and $30,000 from the Tourist Development Council.




Santa Rosa County Auditorium

4560 Spikes Way

6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

For information, call 623-1569