DFI prepares to name Everman permanent director again

DFI Executive Director Kelly Everman addresses her board. (Alfred Miller/alfred.miller@state-journal.com)

Downtown Frankfort Inc. has accepted the torch of the Downtown Master Plan.

DFI board members met Tuesday for the first time since inheriting responsibility for the plan's implementation from a dissolved committee of city and county leaders.

DFI will continue the legwork of community engagement and implementation of the desired master plan for downtown, and will recommend how $150,000 in city funds will be prioritized for the work.

DFI board members seemed up to the task.

Chairwoman Terri Bennett told board members that while they are only tasked with doing the legwork of implementing the master plan, the job is important to the future of downtown. She said the Frankfort City Commission will ultimately decide what projects receive funding.

“We’re not spending $150,000; we’re providing recommendations,” Bennett said. “And I personally am very happy they put this responsibility on us. It’ll be a whole lot of work, but it gives this board some recognition that is due.”

DFI received the duty July 24 to continue the master plan while parallel plans for Capital Plaza redevelopment, which initially prompted the creation of the master plan, proceed in the hands of the state Finance and Administration Cabinet.

Kelly Everman, director of DFI, first presented the organization's volunteer board with a list of the “strongest” goals from the master plan that they could identify as areas of interest and pursue to determine what should be prioritized. She said DFI would also look at public input to determine which projects would be easily attainable.

“It took a village to put the master plan together,” she said. “It’s going to take a village — and more — to implement so much of it.”

Everman identified seven goals: increasing engagement with the riverfront, Broadway Street beautification, pedestrian and bike trails, connectivity, public art, establishing housing options and increasing bourbon tourism. Everman said she would like to have a prioritized list to present to the city commission, which set aside $150,000 to start making the plan come to fruition, in the coming weeks.

“It's too early to say 1, 2, 3,” Everman said. “But I think each of (the board members) taking a piece will help us move forward.”

The master plan — developed from the responses of nearly 5,000 stakeholders and paid for by $100,000 in taxpayer money from the city and county — was developed as part of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Finance and Administration Cabinet to determine the best use for 6.4 acres known as “Parcel B,” where the Frankfort Convention Center stood before being demolished by the state.

DFI also discussed receiving an Entertainment District Designation for downtown Frankfort. The state designation would allow the open carry of alcoholic beverages in certain containers on rights-of-way. Everman said that the city is still in a 30-day comment period before elected officials can move forward with a vote on parameters for the EDD. However, she said that Alcohol Beverage Control officials had been going around to businesses that sell alcohol and warning them to not sell drinks in to-go containers.

“We need to be in compliance with the ABC,” she said. “We’ve been lucky with our Summer Concert Series. It just makes good sense to be in compliance.”

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