Blanco in some ways is like Rip Van Winkle. We’re awakening in the early part of the 21st Century to a changed world.
The pressure of San Antonio and Austin’s growth is causing concern and questions: what do we want to become as these two urban giants continue to expand toward our town?
How do we maintain our unique, historical, and rural character? What can we do to stimulate economic development, yet still maintain that character?
While there is no single answer to these questions, there are activities and initiatives underway to address each – and more!
In fact, there are lots of exciting activities illustrating that Blanco is ‘on the move!’ Take, for example, the revitalization of the west side of the Historic Town Square. Led by Uptown Blanco, Ltd., the transformation being accomplished is amazing - from a wonderful restaurant serving high-class food in a period atmosphere to venues providing art and entertainment to our citizens.
They are making a lasting, positive impact on Blanco for both today and tomorrow. Another example is the Old Courthouse.
Led by the Old Blanco Courthouse Preservation Committee, they are transforming a beautiful architectural building into a magnet for activities (such as a site for the filming of “True Grit” next month) and historical interest. And last, the Lavender Festival, an activity that has put Blanco on the map as the “Lavender Capital of Texas” is drawing people from all over the state and introducing them to our unique town.
Another example, last October the Blanco City Council approved a Resolution authorizing establishment of a committee to develop a master streetscape plan to preserve and beautify the historic district of Blanco and to enhance economic development. Under the leadership of Ms. Linda Howard, Chair of the Blanco Historic Preservation Commission, the Streetscape Committee is co-chaired by Retta Martin and Becky Greathouse of the BHPC, is composed of interested citizens, business owners and city representatives, and has been very active since last November. They have invited urban planning organizations to present their past accomplishments (with similar towns) to the Committee, they have identified a Vision and Objectives for a Master Streetscape Plan, and have sent formal requests to 10 separate urban planning organizations for their ideas and suggestions to accomplish the Resolution objectives. The organizations receiving requests range from established commercial urban planning firms to public institutions such as Texas A&M’s Department of Architecture. Here are the Vision and Objectives developed by the committee and sent to the urban planning organizations, seeking their ideas, suggestions, and cost estimates for attaining them:
Vision: Preserve and maintain the unique historical character of Blanco while encouraging and attracting economic development.
2.Environmentally attractive and pleasing
3. Historically accurate
4.Economically attractive and viable to both businesses and customers, i.e., a ‘magnet’ to customers, tourists, etc.
a. Accessible parking
b.Safe and accessible transportation network
5.A ‘traffic calming’ US Highway 281
6. Easy and pleasing access to the Historical District by residents and visitors via walking or biking
7. Well lit, but night-sky friendly
The committee has researched and discussed funding options for the Streetscape Master initiative with both public and private organizations and will seek financial Grant(s) to fund the Master Plan, once estimated costs are received from our urban planning partners. Future articles will discuss committee progress and updates of the Streetscape Master Plan initiative.
In summary, it’s springtime in Blanco and springtime for Blanco! Supported by an active and interested City Council and citizenry, Blanco is forging ahead with new and exciting activities which will further ‘brand’ our town as a unique and fun place to visit in the Hill Country, and a prosperous one to boot! From Uptown Blanco’s transformation, to the designation as Lavender Capital of Texas, to our planned Streetscape initiative, Blanco is on the move! Blanco tomorrow will be even more unique and exciting!
This is the first in a series of articles designed to inform and update Blanco citizens and interested parties on the many activities underway and planned to improve Blanco and its surroundings.