Jeff Gottke 1-27-2020

Jeff Gottke, vice president of the Area Development Foundation, said that since council adopted a downtown vision plan in May 2019, 200 new parking spaces have been created, wayfinding signs and bike racks installed, and riverfront improvements 95% completed.

MOUNT VERNON — City council members kicked off their meeting Monday hearing an update about the city's downtown vision for revitalization.

“This is not just the city's responsibility to accomplish. There are a lot of other partners … that all have a share in this as well,” Jeff Gottke, vice president of the Area Development Foundation, said of the plan.

The plan involves four areas: West High Street, Public Square, Southern Gateway, and parking. Council adopted the plan in May 2019. Click on the following links to learn more details:

A long-term vision for downtown: Part 1 The Basics

A long-term vision for downtown: Part 2 The Vision

A long-term vision for downtown: Part 3 Implementation

In his update, Gottke cited the following highlights:

  • Design review guidelines: Began discussion. The goal is to engage at least 200 community members for input, review what other communities are doing, write the guidelines, and then present to council. 25% completed.
  • Implement wayfinding: Basically finished. Signs were designed, printed, and are waiting to be hung.
  • Parking: 50% done. Two hundred new parking spaces created in five lots along South Gay Street are a combination of private, public, and both.
  • Establish a Special Improvement District for financing. Nothing done.
  • West High Street: 10% completed. Main Street Mount Vernon has worked on aesthetics with flowers and plantings. Many projects in this category are capital improvement projects the city is to complete.
  • Southern Gateway: Involves capital improvements by the city.
  • Riverfront: 95% done. Bike racks available and/or installed, signage erected, bridges and Rastin Tower lighting installed, bike path connection between Ariel Foundation Park and downtown completed, trail extension under the viaduct to be done this year.
  • Pubic Square: Nothing as it is a project for six to 10 years out.
  • Alternative transportation: 60% completed. Bike racks available or installed, trail links from Ariel-Foundation Park to downtown completed, but from the trail into the city nothing yet has been done.

In legislative action, council authorized the temporary hiring of a second parking enforcement officer Feb. 15 through March 1. The current attendant will leave the position the first of March. The temporary hiring of a second officer allows for an overlapping training period.

Police Chief Kit Morgan said he is considering expanding the parking enforcement area beyond the downtown area to better address complaints citywide. The expanded focus would include fire lane and handicapped parking violations, parking meters, and issues city departments face such as vehicles parking on top of water meters.

Morgan said that if the enforcement area is expanded and the city sees a value, he will consider expanding the enforcement officer's hours and pay rate. Councilman Mike Hillier suggested a discussion on splitting the officer's hours between parking enforcement and aiding the city's engineering department.

Council took the following additional actions:

  • Reappointed Corby Wise to the Historical Review Commission
  • Appointed Councilman Tanner Salyers to the Main Street Mount Vernon board and Councilwoman Janis Seavolt to the Convention & Visitor's Bureau board
  • Authorized the safety-service director to contract with Dynamic Networks (formerly ECR) for IT services and to bid and contract for janitorial supplies
  • Gave second readings to legislation authorizing a contract extension between the city and the Knox County General Health District (Knox County Health Department), and compensation for the safety-service director, members of municipal court, police and fire supervisors, city supervisors, and property maintenance enforcement officer
  • Gave a first reading to legislation authorizing membership in and city representation to the Regional Planning Commission and for 2020 appropriations
  • Postponed indefinitely legislation authorizing the temporary hiring of two police officers and one corporal for the police department

Safety-service Director Richard Dzik told council that he and Mayor Matt Starr met on Monday with members of the College Township Fire Department and Gambier officials about the city providing fire and EMS services to College Township. CTFD initiated the discussion.

Dzik said the next step is to generate a quote to the department for providing services and calculate the amount and cost of personnel needed to do that. He anticipates an ongoing discussion over the next several months.

Resident Tom Fish spoke to council about two ideas to beautify the downtown. The first involves lighting the entrances to the city, similar to the lighted arches in the Short North area of Columbus.

The second idea related to the viaduct on South Main Street. Around 1900-1920 the viaduct was a covered bridge. Fish noted it would be a tourist draw if the city restored the covered bridge.

Councilman Tanner Salyers read a proclamation recognizing Jan. 27, 2020, as Holocaust Remembrance Day. The recognition honors the 6 million Jews and 11 million others who died during the Holocaust.

Following the legislative session, council adjourned into executive session to discuss employee compensation. No action was taken.

Support Our Journalism

Our stories will always be free to read, but they aren't free to produce. We need your support. To help our news organization tell Knox County's story every day, join our team. Become a member today.