Franklin County Judge-Executive Huston Wells cast the deciding vote Monday to hold up county government’s end of a deal to hire a downtown redevelopment consultant.
Franklin County will pay half of the $100,000 fee for CityVisions, which will be responsible for community engagement related to the redevelopment of the Capital Plaza and riverfront areas and the creation of a downtown master plan.
“We’re very excited to get to this point,” Wells told the Fiscal Court and Frankfort City Commission at the joint meeting. “Starting today forward, action is going to be taken. We need to get the community involved.”
Also voting for the measure were Magistrates Michael Turner, Don Sturgeon and Lambert Moore, whose district includes the Capital Plaza area.
Barry Alberts, of CityVisions, was present to answer questions from magistrates and commissioners. He said his firm uses a collaborative process. In the coming months, they will be meeting with as many downtown stakeholders as possible and hosting public engagement events, such as meetings and walking tours.
“We hope people that come to the early meetings will be energized and come back in a few months to another meeting,” he said.
Sturgeon, who is also on the Capital Plaza Area Community Engagement Committee, was particularly impressed with CityVisions’ motivation to get things done early on in the public engagement process.
“As they get more and more information, they do more and more things,” he said.
Magistrates Fred Goins, Scotty Tracy and Marti Booth voted against entering into a contract with the city to secure CityVisions’ services.
Booth, who has been vocal in her opposition of the measure, said she was against the state telling them what to what do.
“That’s why I say it’s unnecessary,” she explained, using the same logic as City Commissioner Lynn Bowers, who also voted against hiring CityVisions.
“We have power and a voice,” Bowers added. “I don’t think we need to pay someone $100,000.”
The city opted to enter into a contract with the consultant firm with a 4-1 vote.
“Doing nothing was never an option,” Commissioner Tommy Haynes said. “This is the time. It’s not for us; it’s for the future.”