I read with great interest the recent articles about all the challenges and choices facing our elected leaders in Frankfort and Franklin County.
There’s the city manager position to fill; developing the cow pasture located on the site of the former Frankfort Convention Center; a contractually obligated parking garage to be built; new housing construction to oversee; TIFs to fix; parks facilities to develop; federal TIGER money to be spent on the Second Street improvement; examining the possible riverside entertainment construction; a Singing Bridge to repair; a Broadway Bridge to save; a new senior living facility to contend with; a new animal shelter that has to be built; no one can get to Rick’s White Light Diner for gumbo because the road’s all torn up; the Capitol is temporarily infested with the usual scoundrels; there’s a pandemic thing going around you might have heard about; and now they must deal with the worst flooding in a decade.
Pity poor Penny Peavler! She’s the new strategic initiatives consultant hired by the city to oversee the grand planning scheme and even direct some projects herself. Thank goodness she’s onboard to guide and counsel the commissioners in this trying time. Her wise words will help set the course the city takes for the next few years.
If you were facing all these items and you were responsible for making the decisions involving the wellbeing of the city, the county, your constituents and the public, what would you do first?
I’m reminded of the words of Frank Smith, an instructor at Thorn Hill Learning Center. A few years back, I was producing "A Charlie Brown Christmas LIVE" as a fundraiser for the center and had a chance to meet Frank. Besides being an all-around good guy, he’s also a pretty good juggler.
He and I were talking with staff members in the hallway and I casually tossed some small item to Frank. Next thing I know, he’s got his hands full of small items, juggling and keeping up the conversation the whole time. I asked how he kept track of so many things up in the air. He said, “I don’t watch all the balls in the air, just the one I’m about to drop.”
A pretty good line, and one the civic leaders should heed.
Obviously, the flood cleanup should come first. Set things right, hose clean what can be cleaned, salvage some and scrap some, jettison what fails. And once that gets cleared away, get to work on the Parcel B and Parcel C deal. Build that garage with the federal grant that is available and invest some of the city’s money. The garage must be built and it’s up to the city to do it. No more hesitation. Just do it. That’s the ball about to be dropped and in need of the most attention.
The pandemic is fading, the flood waters receded, the scoundrels will scurry away. Penny Peavler shall speak and shall be heard, we hope. Downtown will be renewed once the commitment is made to do what must be done. Things are getting better. The future looks promising.
And soon, maybe, we will have gumbo again.
John Arnett is a financial regulator in public service and a longtime coach for Frankfort Parks and Rec in the summer. He can be reached at email@example.com.