MOUNT VERNON — A new website was just launched as part of the effort to create a comprehensive plan for downtown Mount Vernon. A steering committee has now met twice to start the discussion on the current conditions and the shape of the future of the central business district.
“This is a true collaborative community process,” said Jason Sudy, principal with OHM Advisors, leading the planning study.
Sudy said the study will look at how Mount Vernon compares with similar communities, where people want to see things move forward and what the future of downtown could bring.
“Change is inevitable,” said Mayor Richard Mavis during the first meeting of the group.
“Our goal is to chart a common vision,” said Jeff Harris, president of the Area Development Foundation.
An eight-step process has been implemented for the study, Sudy told the News, and includes:
•Existing conditions analysis;
•Review existing planning documents;
•Redevelopment plan scenarios;
•Draft of preferred development plan;
•Prepare for implementation; and
•Final plan and adoption.
The city has already initiated a traffic study which is expected to be completed by the end of the year. A parking study has been finished, at the request of the Mount Vernon Development Co. Because these two issues have already been addressed, Sudys said the planning committee can focus on other issues and then incorporate the studies into the final conclusions.
While the plan will look at the future of downtown — 10 to 20 years from now — Sudys said the final plan will include progressive moves that can be administered within six months of the plan’s unveiling.
“Comprehensive in its approach, the planning process will incorporate public input, exiting conditions analysis, local expertise from a project steering committee and knowledge of best practices to help the city of Mount Vernon move downtown forward.”
Public input will be taken in three ways:
•On the website, www.mountvernondowntownplan.com, where visitors, regardless of where they live, will have the opportunity to answer questions regarding their thoughts and opinions on various aspects of downtown. No timeline has been released regarding the posting of questions or how long they will remain live.
•Mount Vernon Downtown Plan Workshop/Open House, Wednesday, Oct. 4, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Knox County Memorial Building.
•October First Friday, downtown Mount Vernon, from 6-9 p.m.
“Hearing the hopes and dreams for downtown from those who live, work and visit here are vital to understand the opportunities, and in creating the best road map,” Sudy said. “At the same time, we also want to hear about the challenges to success in order to establish strategies to deal with them. Public input is so useful throughout the entire process, and we want to hear from those in Mount Vernon, and throughout Knox County, and those who have an interest from anywhere else.”The projections are to present a final plan to the steering committee and City Council in January 2018.
Representatives of the city of Mount Vernon, Seimens Energy, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Woodward Development Corp., Kenyon College, Central Ohio Technical College, Area Development Foundation, Ariel Foundation, Main Street Mount Vernon, Knox County Park District, Knox County Landmarks Foundation, American Electric Power, Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County, downtown business owners, Mount Vernon Development Corp., and others, are part of the steering committee.