- OLF-8 Master Plan Team Seeks Your Attendance at Virtual Charrette
Have Your Say on the Future of Former Helicopter Field
A 500-acre former helicopter training field in Beulah is ready for a makeover…or at least a plan. The landing field, known as OLF-8, is now the property of the citizens of Escambia County, and county commissioners want the public to help decide its future as part of a master plan for the site that can maximize the possibility of bringing high-paying jobs to the site.
After being postponed due to Hurricane Sally, the internationally-recognized town planning firm DPZ will lead a series of online community meetings to gather input and ideas on the future development of OLF-8, beginning Tuesday, Oct. 13. The series of meetings, called a “charrette,” allows citizens and stakeholders to participate directly in the planning and design process.
Marina Khoury, partner with DPZ, said the charrette process brings the community together with the planning and design team to collaborate on the master plan. “The term charrette is a French word that means ‘an intense and collaborative planning workshop,’ so we need the community’s input to help us develop master plans,” said Khoury.
“At the beginning of the charrette, we will present the research and analysis of the site, as well as a few different scenarios for the development of the OLF-8 site. For the next 10 days, we will be asking the citizens to share their feedback, suggestions, and ideas with us as we refine those scenarios,” Khoury continued. “This allows the community to see their input and feedback implemented and incorporated into the plan, almost in realtime.”
For those who would like to participate in the charrette process, there will be 12 different events that you will be able to check into virtually. Seven of those will be small group meetings where topics such as transportation and infrastructure, marketability and jobs, and community needs will be addressed.
Three larger evening presentations will update the community on the data and analysis gathered during the project, share initial, intermediate, and final design scenarios, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each option. Each of these evening presentations will build on the previous presentations, showing the progress and input collected from the public during the process.
In addition, walkability expert Jeff Speck will present two special seminars on the broader concepts of walkability and master planning. These sessions will provide citizens and stakeholders with a higher-level understanding of the concepts and best practices within the master plan.
Information about all of these sessions, and ways to participate, can be found by clicking here.
Citizens wishing to participate who do not have internet access should contact OLF-8 Project Manager Terri Berry at 850-595-3421. Accommodations will be made.
- OLF8 Master Plan Kicks Off
Project Website Allows Citizens to Give Input at Their Convenience
“This OLF-8 project is really a project for the entirety of Escambia County,” said Escambia County District 1 Commissioner Jeff Bergosh. “We need citizens to bring their unique perspective to this project so that our planning team will have the best information to create something that really makes a difference in Beulah and Escambia County as a whole.”
The OLF8 Master Plan project is an Escambia County-driven initiative to turn the empty helicopter field by Navy Federal Credit Union Campus into a thriving asset for the community. The project team was selected by the Escambia County Commissioners to create a plan to maximize the opportunities for jobs and community uses on this 500 plus acre site in Beulah.
“Even though we are living in unprecedented times, that is no reason to sacrifice public input, especially on this project,” said team leader Marina Khoury, of DPZ Design. “With this website, we look forward to getting feedback from the community today, which will be very helpful for us leading up to our charrette week in September and beyond.”
At MyOLF8.com, residents can find many ways to not only learn about the project, but also how to participate as a citizen in the project planning. Learn about the team members guiding the project, read the project goals set out by the county and explore the ample opportunities to leave your own input.
“This is a really big project for Escambia County, so it’s important to us to know that the citizens will have plenty of opportunities to give their input,” said Terri Berry, Project Coordinator in the Natural Resources Management Department. “We’re excited to finally hear what the community has to say and what they want to OLF8 to be.”
The website contains an interactive online map where citizens can leave virtual “flags” with their ideas, such as what they would like to see at the location, or if they know something about the geography of a particular portion that would be of interest to the project team.
MyOLF8.com also has the ability to conduct public meetings, like charrette week, with a large virtual presence. Charrette week, which begins on September 21, is the team’s chance to sit down with members of the community to hear their concerns and their wishes for the project.
During the week, the design team will use that feedback to craft a plan for the site that creates the highest and best use for the community. At the end of the week, the team will have another large presentation where the public input-based plan is debuted. This week will also consist of smaller topic-based meetings to gather citizen ideas and feedback.
You can find the full schedule online.
Project managers said the new concerns over group meetings have pushed many citizen activities online, but with perhaps even better results.
“In the last few months, we have observed a larger virtual presence at other charrettes conducted and have seen promising results,” said Khoury. “It is our aim to be as inclusive as possible and we expect to receive more input online than we could have expected in person. The platform we are using will make it easy for anyone to leave a comment, and we will easily be able to track them.”
Contact: Brooke Fleming
- Technical Kick-off MeetingsTechnical kick-off meetings were held on Wednesday and Thursday, May 20-21, 2020. These meetings are the beginning of work in earnest on OLF-8. Following the kick-off, the consultant team will begin collecting background information on the site and community, study technical information, economics, demographics, and other data. See the Events Page for information on upcoming meetings, including when the background analysis report will be prepared and presented.