New members of the Downtown Revitalization Committee met on Tuesday evening after about seven years of inactivity.
The new committee met discussed what role, if any, historic preservation would play in its efforts and what may have caused the previous group to become inactive.
“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” City Manager Todd Newman said.
The new group has seven voting members, three non-voting ex-officio members and two non-voting city employees. The committee gathering in the Alliance Room of the Memorial Building selected insurance agent Mark Perez as chair, Garrett Sharp of Community National Bank as vice chair and Chanute High School junior Drayton Cleaver as secretary.
Other voting members are Dan Mildfelt, Kelly Coulter, Sharon Stirewalt and David Remboldt. Ex-officio members are Matt Godinez from Chanute Regional Development Authority, Ruthann Boatwright from Main Street Chanute and Jane Brophy from the Chanute Area Chamber of Commerce & Office of Tourism.
The new group will serve as an advisory board and any action will come from the city commission. It does not have a budget, but Newman said he sees city funding possible in the future.
The committee members received the previous group’s last report from 2013 with goals and objectives, and a list of downtown buildings, their owners, vacancies, and county valuations.
The previous board had 15 voting members and a mission statement, but members Tuesday evening chose a new mission statement that Perez drafted before the meeting. They scheduled meetings for 6 pm on the first Tuesday of each month.
The previous mission statement, which the members discussed, was “To review, research and discuss options related to downtown revitalization and to recommend options to the city commission and the citizens of Chanute to accomplish this goal.”
The new statement is “A safe, healthy, workable and progressive downtown that supports development opportunities and lifestyle quality for our present and future citizens.”
City commissioner Phil Chaney, who is commission liaison, said the past group’s report was informational but “super dry.”
“Hopefully, we don’t spend a year and a half discussing this stuff,” he said. Chaney said the past group went down a path to historical preservation.
“This is your board. This is your vision,” Assistant City Manager Ryan Follmer said.
Perez said the group would be brainstorming.
“We’re here, we’re not going anywhere and we’re going to make improvements downtown,” Perez said.
Newman said a lot of the available grant funding for downtown renovation focuses on historic preservation. Follmer said many owners are intimidated by the cost and accompanying regulations involved in historic preservation funding.
Follmer said downtown has a minimum maintenance code, but it is not enforced.
Newman said one of the hardest issues the new group will face is dealing with private ownership.
Participants Tuesday commented that the role of downtown areas has changed from retail to work, dining and residential use. They also discussed the use of vegetation landscaping downtown.