What’s ahead for downtown Knox? That was the question Candice Bernier, representing both the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, and Indiana Downtown, attempted to answer at the Knox City Council meeting Wednesday night.
Bernier told the building owners, city officials, and other interested persons who attended the meeting that a five year game plan is needed to correct the deficiencies in the downtown.
One recommendation she mentioned was that the trees needed to come down, because in other communities she has helped design they have caused problems when the roots grew under the sidewalks and streets.
She also said that ordinances have to be passed that will encourage building owners to either repair their structures, sell them, or tear them down. The ordinances would come with hefty fines if they don’t bring their buildings to an acceptable level.
“Let’s face it,” Bernier said, “people judge your city by what your downtown looks like. If it looks lifeless, it gives a negative impression of the entire city.”
She recommended that the project become a partnership between the city, building owners and the citizens. Bernier has been involved in the similar sized cities of Warren and Delphi. In all, 26 cities have used the services of Hyatt-Palma, the project facilitators, to improve downtown areas in Indiana. The owners of the Hyatt-Palma organization would be working in Knox for 4 months, if they are contracted. Cost for the project would be based on the size of the community, which in the case of Knox would be $31,000.
“The first thing needed, though, is a plan,” she said. “and you also need a balance of business, residential, and office space to make it succeed.”
Mayor Rick Chambers and Councilman Jeff Berg, thanked Bernier for taking time to come to Knox to explain what is needed, and how it could be accomplished.