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Downtown revitalization meeting is tonight

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Program starts at 7:30 at Historic State Theater

By Marty Finley

Elizabethtown city officials and the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Heritage Council are ready to take the next step in a shared vision to redevelop downtown.

The two entities are hosting a downtown design meeting from 5:30  to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Historic State Theater.

Mayor Tim Walker said the meeting is the kickoff for the downtown revitalization program as the city gains input from downtown business and property owners, homeowners and residents in general.

“Anyone interested in our downtown,” he said.

A future meeting could be held specifically with business and property owners, he added. Once ideas are compiled, Walker said they will be used to help shape design standards.

The meeting is part of a redevelopment package pitched in March by Walker to breathe new life into a downtown where businesses have shuttered and some buildings have sat dormant for years.

The downtown development plan outlined by Walker includes a review of existing plans for downtown development and the listing of needed infrastructure improvements in the area, such as storm water and utility issues. The plan also includes creation of a building and property inventory and a review of possible building acquisitions.

Conceptual proposals for the redevelopment of buildings, parking lot designs and improvements to open space are planned as part of the design plan. Walker also called for an evaluation of private incentive programs and ways to provide maintenance to services downtown, which would include cleaning and beautification efforts.

The report also indicated the city will designate which buildings are appropriate for restaurant use based on water and sanitary sewer system capacity, public access, parking availability and the building’s ability to adapt. At the time, Walker said at least one public meeting will be held to gather comments about the development plan once finished, but he also said he wanted to work with downtown business and property owners to gain their thoughts on the transformation.

Since Walker took office, the city has spent $240,000 to purchase three buildings in downtown, including the “purple building” at 133 W. Dixie Ave. and two properties adjacent to City Hall at 212 and 214 W. Dixie Ave. once belonging to Helping Hand of the Heartland.

Walker said in June the purchase of the former Helping Hand properties could assist the city in expanding City Hall, providing space for additional parking and growth opportunities.

Heath Seymour, executive director of the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Heritage Council, said Thursday’s meeting will highlight concepts and programs already under way or in development while receiving feedback on new ideas from those interested in the transformation.

The Heritage Council has taken new efforts to promote downtown recently, launching a Second Saturday event as a way to showcase downtown businesses. Kentucky Educational Television program Kentucky Life also recently produced a small package on Elizabethtown which focused on the downtown district and some of its new and existing businesses.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.