For months, members of Independence's Downtown Redevelopment Coordinating Committee, a group of citizen volunteers chosen by the City Council, have met to evaluate old city plans, explore new ideas and identify a feasible list of recommendations for future enhancements to the city.
Their brainchild is scheduled to be presented to the council on Monday. Ideally, the council will adopt a resolution later this month based on the report, which would serve as the master development plan for downtown Independence over the next 10 to 15 years.
The 10-member citizen group started meeting last October, and their appointments ended Sept. 30. It looked at 16 different development plans from decades past, which included dozens of ideas, and culled together a couple dozen recommended projects, worth about $200 million overall, for the city to further consider.
“We've pulled together what we think will work,” Council Member Curt Dougherty said. “If you have a vibrant downtown, you have a vibrant city. If you want those things, this is the next step to get there.”
For this purpose, the city considered downtown to be bound by Noland Road on the east, Lexington and Pacific avenues to the south, Winner Road to the south and west and U.S. 24 to the north. It includes Englewood, Fairmount, Maywood and the Square.
While several of the projects involve streetscape or sidewalk improvements or bike paths, as well as gateways and wayfinding signs, among the larger projects offered for consideration are a new community center, residential tower and mixed-use facilities, as well as extending West Maple Avenue near City Hall. Master plans for the National Frontier Trails Museum and Truman Depot restoration also are on the list.
Beyond identifying plan details that were still relevant, Jim Schuessler of CFS Engineers, which assisted the committee, said the group also whittled down recommendations based on such factors as:
• Meeting the city's strategic needs.
• Increasing economic prosperity.
• Visual appearance.
• Stabilizing neighborhoods.
• Improving public infrastructure.
Also, the group considered how easily projects could be phased, their return on investment and how projects could be financed and easily maintained. A majority of the funding would come from state and federal grants and incentive district financing.
The council spent more than $96,000 for CFS Engineers – $50,000 initially to assist the committee in identifying feasible projects and $46,000 in August to help gauge early feedback from the community.
Whereas numerous previous community plans rarely resulted in something put into action – amounting to some wasted dollars – the additional CFS services were supposed to help with that missing step.
Said Dougherty, who chaired the committee, “We found stacks and stacks of plans that had been done, but they never took the next step and said, ‘How do we implement it?’”
Committee members include Linda Brosam, Bryan Conley, Tom Garland, Jill Getman, Jennifer Manuleleua, Matt Medley, Brian Schultz, Monte Short, Linda Sims, Trevor Tilton and Alan Williams.