Shawnee appoints 4 new members to group charged with spurring revitalization of downtown area


By Jerry LaMartina

The Shawnee City Council approved three reappointments and four new appointments to the Shawnee Downtown Partnership recommended by Mayor Michelle Distler.

The Downtown Partnership is an advisory committee whose mission is “to aid in promoting and encouraging the enhancement of Shawnee’s Downtown,” according to a Nov. 27 memo from Volunteer Coordinator Elizabeth Griffith to Interim City Manager Vicki Charlesworth.

“The committee develops events for the downtown area to encourage awareness and growth, reviews and proposes existing incentive programs, and provides general guidance to further the goal in creating a vibrant downtown,” according to the memo.

The council unanimously approved the reappointments and new appointments at its Nov. 27 meeting. The terms of service for all seven committee members will expire Nov. 28, 2020.

The three reappointed committee members, all of whom have served on the committee since November 2011, are:

  • Chris Calkins, whose term expired Nov. 14
  • Connie Harrell, whose term expired Nov. 14
  • Scott Harvey, whose term was to have expired Nov. 28

The four new appointees, chosen at the Downtown Partnership’s Aug. 31 meeting, are:

  • Carolyn Vivian
  • Matthew Grippen
  • Jeremy Whitley
  • Thomas Seberger

Many of the Downtown Partnership’s work plans carry over year to year, Neighborhood Planner Lauren Grashoff said in an email. The 2018 plans will be developed at its February meeting.

The committee’s 2017 programming work plan’s goals and action plans included:

  • Continue to promote and improve incentive programs to attract new businesses and encourage existing business and property owners to make improvements. Action plan: Disseminate information to individuals, businesses and property owners eligible for incentives; track applicants and recipients of incentive programs; publicize successes; evaluate incentive programs’ effectiveness; and continue to work with the EDC and Chamber of Commerce to create links from their websites to information about city incentive programs.
  • Encourage redevelopment in the downtown area. Action plan: Continue to promote the cottage zoning district for downtown; discuss incentives to help with rehabilitation and revitalization of multifamily residential developments; and advocate for Nieman Now! Projects.
  • Apprise businesses and residents of downtown activities, events and business information. Action plan: Publish four Downtown Update newsletters, which include features on new businesses, events and other relevant information; and update the commission’s webpage with relevant information.
  • Continue advertising and media opportunities and emphasize business development. Action plan: Continue information and awareness media ads and promotions.
  • Update downtown portions of the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Action plan: Complete general updates and insert goals and actions from TAP and PSP grants.

The council on Sept. 25 approved an updated process for recruiting, appointing and approving members of boards and commissions. It includes allowing for one motion to approve an entire slate of recommended appointees, and the council may remove one or more recommendations and vote on them separately, similar to the process used for its consent agenda.

Ward 2 Councilman Eric Jenkins was absent from Monday’s meeting.