DASH master plan up for revision

Published 1:49 am Monday, March 13, 2017

By Jennifer Shrader



The Hillside community’s master plan is getting its first update since 2005 and leaders of the organization say they’re pleased with the level of resident involvement.


“We’ve seen a rise in residential engagement in the community, particularly with Hillside Montessori,” said Ben Wheeler, community development director.


DASH for LaGrange recently held its second community meeting, led by Elise Cormier of Atlanta-based Smart Landscapes and Auburn University landscape architect students. The planners are focused on not just bringing more retail and housing to the area of southwest LaGrange, which has always been a priority for DASH, but adding more greenspace and parks. That includes integrating projects into the city’s Thread Trail, which just broke ground on its first section last week.


“We’d like to see more public greenspace,” Wheeler said. The city already has mentioned revamping the Jackson Street Park and splash pad, one of the existing parks in the Hillside neighborhood.


“When we approach the city with our ides, we want to have a plan in hand,” Wheeler said.


The workshops have focused on enhancing community areas within the neighborhood, including walkable streets, play areas for kids, and neighborhood parks for family gatherings. Draft designs for streets and parks considered improved amenities for residents with limited sight and mobility. Student teams explored walkable connections to LaGrange College campus and downtown LaGrange via a possible Lee Creek Greenway and the Thread.


“Working with Hillside neighborhood through DASH LaGrange is a rewarding collaboration for the Auburn University architecture and landscape architecture students,” said Rebecca O’Neal Dagg, associate professor of architecture at Auburn. “These undergraduate and graduate students are working together in teams and individually to analyze the Hillside neighborhood and master plan. From their design research, they then generate design ideas and visioning drawings that help the neighborhood residents and other stakeholders envision the potential for the future of Hillside. These drawings can assist in applying for grants and in demonstrating future value to other potential partners.”


“The next step is to design parks, pathway systems, and architecture that will be amenities for the residents and for community members from nearby LaGrange College, Milliken, local schools and the hospital to use. These designs – from streetscapes, playgrounds, and sustainable house prototypes – intend to include and inspire residents of all ages from children to seniors. DASH has done a great service to our team and the city by making this opportunity happen. Thanks to all of the people we have spoken with so far. We welcome even more residents to give feedback at the next open houses. Ideally, this design research and outreach will be a catalyst for sustainable growth both for Hillside neighborhood and for LaGrange.”



The students’ work will continue throughout the spring, culminating in an open house event in April to present final designs for Hillside’s future parks and sociable streets. The community is invited to attend the event at 6 p.m. April 26th at Hillside Station, 625 Jefferson St.