The Oak Gateway steering committee hopes to mitigate developmental issues surrounding UNT after years of discussion

The Oak Gateway steering committee hopes to mitigate developmental issues surrounding UNT after years of discussion

The Oak Gateway steering committee hopes to mitigate developmental issues surrounding UNT after years of discussion
June 27
23:39 2018

A steering committee focusing on the areas surrounding UNT is looking to present a strategy to the Denton City Council by the end of the year to mitigate parking and transportation challenges.

The Oak Gateway plan hopes to improve UNT’s surroundings which hold 18 percent of Denton’s population and is seeing constant development.

“We hope to have a plan soon so we can start implementing actions to improve the area,” said Ron Menguita, the project manager who facilitates the drafting of the plan.

In 2016, the Fry street small area plan was expanded to address development issues in a larger area. The study area increased from 97 acres to 1,200 acres. The study area is bounded by Panhandle street, Fort Worth Drive/Carroll Boulevard, Bonnie Brae Street and Interstate 35 East.

The steering committee was created in November 2017 and includes 24 stakeholders. Residents, property owners, UNT administration staff, UNT students, local builders and other stakeholders participate in the committee.

Denton City Councilman Paul Meltzer was the chair but resigned after winning the city council place 6 spot. Patrice Lyke, an academic advisor for the English department at UNT, took his spot as committee chair.

The committee, whose job is to address parking, mobility and building issues in the designated area, has met eight times since their creation. The first three meetings involved introducing the committee’s structure and selecting its name, chair and vice chair.

The other meetings involved research on the area, looking for public input and performing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of the area.

There was also a community workshop that saw 125 people in attendance.

The committee used to meet once a month, but their meeting schedule recently moved up to once a week. This is meant to make discussions easier to continue and remember between sessions.

“Meeting once a month wasn’t cutting it for some people because we have a deep bench on the committee,” Lyke said.

The committee divided the area plan into three subareas due to the diversity of communities within the area. The committee has toured the subareas and are drafting vision statements for each one.

A map of the boundaries of the Oak Gateway plan. Courtesy City of Denton.

Mayor Chris Watts took issue with how big the area is saying there are a lot of different needs and developmental issues within the area map.

“This thing has ballooned, and I think that is a part of the struggle,” Watts said.

The steering committee hopes the three subareas will address this issue.

“[The areas] surrounding the university share a common problem, but they are significantly different as far as areas, which is why we broke them up into three subareas,” Menguita said.  

The process has seen some challenges, such as a lack of attendance from committee members.

Some original committee members are not attending due to a range of reasons from lack of interest to moving away. Menquita said they are reaching out to members who have limited attendance to see if they are still interested. If they are not, then new stakeholders will be enlisted.

Going forward, the committee hopes to have vision statements for each subarea so a plan can be put in action.

“It is important to get this right and to have people involved who truly care about this area and have a stake in it,” Watts said.

Featured image: Undergraduate advisor and senior lecturer Patrice Lyke believes that it is important to improve development around the UNT campus. Josh Jamison

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Devin Rardin

Devin Rardin

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