A board tasked with gathering input for the Downtown Master Plan has disbanded and handed over responsibilities of implementing the plan to Downtown Frankfort Inc.
Members of the quasi-governmental Capital Plaza Community Engagement Committee (CPCEC) met Tuesday for the last time. The move is part of an effort to preserve the Downtown Master Plan while parallel plans for Capital Plaza redevelopment, which prompted the committee's creation, proceed in the hands of the state Finance and Administration Cabinet.
Which goal of the Downtown Master Plan is most important to achieve?
With a unanimous vote, the CPCEC decided to disband and pass on the community engagement and implementation of the master plan to DFI, which will get $150,000 in city funds for the work.
Frankfort city commissioners recently budgeted the money for general implementation of the master plan, whose goals include increasing engagement with the riverfront, encouraging walkability, establishing a range of housing options, improving traffic and circulation, creating more usable public space and increasing bourbon/cultural tourism.
“That is just a budget number,” said Frankfort City Manager Keith Parker, a member of CPCEC. “I would assume we would take direction from DFI what is a priority, but the city commission ultimately has the ability to accept or deny them (the directions).”
DFI Director Kelly Everman, who also was a member of the CPCEC, said she will be clearing it with her board members but thinks they will “jump at the chance” to be part of the undertaking. She said DFI will first be getting up to speed on projects already underway.
“I’d like to meet with each team that was loosely developed based on this and see where we are, and then formulate how to get input and get it moving,” Everman said. “I think everybody was very excited about what came out of process, and I think everyone wants to see it happen.”
Everman said she wants to draw from the almost 5,000 contributors to the master plan to form specialized groups and focus on each area of the master plan to see recommendations to completion.
Parker said that DFI will not carry the burden on its own at first. In the next couple of weeks city staff will be available to Everman to determine what parts of the master plan have been started and what parts are easily attainable that can be made a priority, Parker said, asking Everman to bring a presentation to the city commission at its Aug. 12 work session.
“I think we’ll be looking for an update on progress,” Parker said.
CPCEC was created alongside the Development Advisory Committee (DAC) to gather public input and — with the help of a consultant paid a combined $100,000 by Franklin County and Frankfort — develop a master plan. It was all part of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Finance and Administration Cabinet to determine the use for 6.4 acres known as “Parcel B,” where the Frankfort Convention Center stood before being demolished by the state.
The master plan’s future became uncertain in May, though, when Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary William Landrum presented the city with an offer of an additional 4.1 acres known as “Parcel C” — upon which the YMCA and a parking garage sit — in order to better entice a private developer. Landrum added that the state would find the developer and the city would reap the tax benefits from the property. In exchange, Landrum asked that the city and county dissolve the MOA with the state. Both governing boards unanimously approved.
The votes effectively rendered both the DAC and CPCEC defunct. However, leaders of the groups did not want to lose what had been accomplished — along with $100,000 — in creating a master plan for downtown. Frankfort commissioners then budgeted $150,000 in June toward seeing a product from the plans.
Everman said she’s ready for the challenge.
“Quite frankly, I don't think there is anything more important going on downtown right now than this master plan,” Everman said. “Yes, the development of Parcel B and C is important. … It just seems to me, we need to get moving on the master plan. And I’m excited.”