union creates a downtown redevelopment committee | Local News

Union town officials create a committee to focus on downtown revitalization.

The idea for a downtown redevelopment committee came after hearing from the public and those involved with the city at recent town hall meetings on the city’s comprehensive 10-year plan, said city administrator Jonathan Zimmermann at the April 18 meeting of the Parks, Buildings, Development and Public Service Commission, which includes members of the College of Aldermen.

“At many of our global planning meetings, there has been a discussion about the downtown district, in particular, and how it is either underused or in need of redevelopment,” Zimmermann said. “We thought it would be a good idea to set up a committee advising the College of Aldermen on what steps we could take to revitalize the town centre.”

One problem has been determining what exactly is considered downtown, Mayor Bob Schmuke said. “I think we need to define our area where we need to be and then within that create a committee,” he said.

Zimmermann suggested using areas zoned to be part of Union’s central business district.

The Central Business District includes the Union City Auditorium, Old City Hall, and the area just east of it, then runs west past the present City Hall to Christina Avenue. The central business district goes as far north as Flat Creek and ends just north of Highway 50 to the south.

Schmuke said he looked downtown to see what kinds of buildings were there. “Do they need to be redesigned? He asked. “Do we need to consider, maybe, tearing something down to build something new? The committee could possibly look at that and decide where to go from there.

Schmuke said he spoke to “four or five” people interested in serving on the committee and asked Alderman Bob Marquart to find a representative from Heritage Bank, where Marquart is president and chief executive, to make part of the committee because the bank is a big part of downtown.

Schmuke also wants to ask a few other people, including Dana Robinson of the White Rose Cafe, to join the committee. “I think it’s a very important part of downtown,” he said.

“I would like the majority to be part of what we do downtown,” he said. “It’s them that it’s going to hurt them or help them.”

Although no vote was taken, the aldermen determined that the committee should have approximately nine members. The council will also have a liaison with the council of aldermen, which Jacob Doepke, who was just sworn in a week earlier, has volunteered to do.

An alderman typically represents the city on citizens’ committees, such as Barbara Laberer on the Planning and Zoning Commission and Dennis Soetebier on the Park Advisory Board.

Zimmermann said staff will develop a more formal plan for the committee and bring it back for review in May.

In the past, aldermen have given mixed reviews to past efforts to revitalize downtown Union.

In a workshop last fall with H3 Studio, which is developing the city’s overall plan, 57% of elected officials surveyed said the city had not done a good job of meeting the goals set out in the Union’s 2011 comprehensive plan for downtown revitalization. This includes recruiting and retaining businesses and creating entertainment and business opportunities in the heart of the city.

One of the reasons cited was that the area around the Franklin County Courthouses attracts many law firms, which takes up commercial space and limits the number of other businesses that can locate nearby.

Residents who attended a December meeting with H3 also gave the city’s work on the downtown area poor reviews, with half of those polled saying they “strongly disagree” with the idea that the city has done well. progressed towards its goals in the region, with the other half remaining neutral.

In addition to the abundance of law firms, residents said lack of parking was a problem that kept people from getting downtown.

The aldermen supported the project to create a city center committee.

David H. Henry