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LA PORTE, TX-To most people in Texas, La Porte is that place where the battleship and the monument to the Battle of San Jacinto are located. But area leaders are working toward adding a town square as another attraction.

The town square is still in the planning stages, with the town council authorizing the economic development coordinator to proceed with plans and renderings. The square will likely be developed an area known as Five Points, which was the center of La Porte in its early days.

Gretchen Larson, economic development coordinator with the City of La Porte, says leaders are in discussion with architect firms to obtain renderings. Once renderings have been approved, the town will go through the process of public meetings and planning and zoning discussions.

Larson estimates the entire process will likely take about a year, with the development itself to take two or three months. “This is a completely friendly project,” she says. “We’re not seeking to take over anyone’s land. We just want to know what it will look like and how to proceed.” The town square, she adds, would be a place for people to gather, and to promote a sense of community.

Dean Almy, dean of urban development with the University of Texas at Austin, says LaPorte isn’t by itself in establishing town squares. He points out that urban design trends are moving toward quality of life issues, as well as economic and political issues. “Quality of life issues, right now, tend to equate with things like pedestrian areas and access to shopping areas that aren’t in a mall,” Almy comments.

Additionally, cities and towns establish centers to create a sense of place in what otherwise might be sprawling infrastructure. “There’s a trend, nationally, that many suburban-style communities, that have no ‘there, there,’ so to speak, are creating town square and centers as a way of establishing a sense of place, and making people feel as though they’re involved in their towns,” Almy comments.

Larson tells GlobeSt.com that those reasons are precisely why La Porte wants to establish its own town square. “La Portians are proud of their town, and they like that hometown feel,” she explains. “With this, we’re seeking to maintain what we already have.”

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