City officials will be looking to create a committee tasked with prioritizing aspects of the Downtown Master Plan with the public’s input and ensuring implementation of the plan once the group that created it disbands.
The topic arose Wednesday during a meeting of the Capital Plaza Community Engagement Committee (CPCEC). Members discussed creating another board to pursue implementation of the Downtown Master Plan once an agreement that led to its creation between the city, county and state Finance and Administration Cabinet is dissolved. All members of CPCEC expressed a desire to continue with the groundwork laid by the agreement and agreed to convene again in two weeks to discuss how to proceed.
Frankfort Mayor Bill May, chairman of the CPCEC, would be the one to create the new board and appoint its members. He said the idea is to push forward with the master plan to show the work put into it wasn’t a waste.
“We want to show some progress,” May said. "It’s important to get something happening and encourage the community to buy in. This will continue so the community can see what Frankfort can and will look like in the future."
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 the master plan. It was all part of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Finance and Administration Cabinet to determine the use for what would eventually become an opportunity for private development, and local taxation, on 11.8 acres of state-owned property — including the former Frankfort Convention Center site, the YMCA, the land beneath the Capital Plaza Hotel and its parking garage. With recent movement to dissolve the MOA in order to fast-track bidding on the property, though, many city officials are looking to preserve the Downtown Master Plan that it spawned.
“We need to wrap our arms around the Downtown Master Plan and keep going,” said City Manager Keith Parker, a member of CPCEC. “Regardless of the MOA, it’s a good document and good thing for us.”
Some of the major recommendations outlined in the Downtown Master Plan 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.
One issue that arose during CPCEC discussions Wednesday was funding for the projects — including a community boathouse, two-way West Main Street and rehabilitation of the Broadway Bridge, among others — contained in the plan, which could require up to millions and at least hundreds of thousands of dollars to come to fruition. The new board would be tasked with gathering public input to determine what projects get priority during lean budget times for city and county governments.
“The Downtown Master Plan was something we did with a lot of community input,” May said. “Whether we have an MOA or not, there are still things we can do without the state.”