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Evoking the Past to Envision the Future

As West Texas experienced unprecedented population growth, the City of Odessa began its first comprehensive plan in 25 years. However, it soon became clear that traditional methods were not attracting the public participation vital for an effective plan. To get residents curious and engaged, the Freese and Nichols team held a public input meeting at the iconic Ector Theatre – the first time in decades that the landmark was freely open to the public. Inside, longtime residents were reminded what Odessa’s downtown was once like, and newer residents could see the potential that downtown had to offer. Outside, the project team held walking tours through downtown; renderings at tour stops depicted possibilities for a future Odessa. This interactive approach produced a level of participation unheard of in cities of Odessa’s size and demographics, creating empowerment and buy-in that continued through the adoption process.

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