Responding to criticism, city schedules new forum for public input on redevelopment

City Manager Cindy Steinhauser (center) addresses members of the local economic development board. (Alfred Miller/

Franklin County residents are getting another opportunity to voice their views on Frankfort’s downtown redevelopment.

Responding to recent calls from county leaders for transparency and inclusiveness, City Manager Cindy Steinhauser announced Tuesday the addition of another forum to gather public input.

The forum, to be held at Capital City Christian Church on Tuesday, May 1, at 6:30 p.m., will mirror the gathering held in downtown Frankfort in February, Steinhauser told The State Journal. At the prior meeting, urban planning consultants asked multiple-choice questions that focused on downtown Frankfort’s image, needs and housing options. Participants then split into small teams before sharing their views with the larger group.

The announcement comes after county magistrates expressed alarm that CityVisions, the firm Frankfort hired to craft its master downtown redevelopment plan, appeared to have moved beyond the information-gathering phase without making more of an effort to solicit input from county residents. CityVisions’ $100,000 contract is technically with the City of Frankfort, but the Franklin County Fiscal Court is covering half the cost.

On Tuesday, Steinhauser told members of the local economic development board that the consultant’s information-gathering process had been transparent and designed to solicit input from people in more intimate settings, such as meetings of civic groups.

According to CityVisions’ contract, such “stakeholder meetings” were slated to run through the end of February, culminating in the first of three public meetings. The May 1 forum at Capital City Christian Church — organized swiftly following an email exchange last week between CityVisions’ Barry Alberts and one of the magistrates most critical of Alberts’ process, Fred Goins — adds an opportunity for county residents to share their views publicly before Alberts presents his initial findings. That third public meeting will follow a week later on the evening of May 8 at downtown Frankfort’s former Mitchell’s Clothing Store building, Steinhauser announced Tuesday.

“To me, we’re at such a pivotal time here in our community with the redevelopment of the downtown area. The more people that get out and get involved, the greater opportunity to have success,” said Capital City Christian Church Executive Minister Jon Sutphin, who told The State Journal he had missed the city’s announcement of the February forum.

The church, which Sutphin said tries to be “heavily involved” in community issues, also hosted an “On the Table” focus group for the Blue Grass Community Foundation last month. Its worship center holds up to 700 people, Sutphin said.

Last week, Steinhauser also said city staff would be launching a site to house an online survey on Capital Plaza redevelopment. That site should go live by the end of this week, City Planner Jordan Miller told The State Journal.

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