Purdue Extension specialist Kara Salazar leads Thursday’s discussion about Downtown Frankfort. Around 50 community stakeholders and representatives spent all day brainstorming ideas that would improve the downtown area. Staff photo by Rachel Pyle
Purdue Extension specialist Kara Salazar leads Thursday’s discussion about Downtown Frankfort. Around 50 community stakeholders and representatives spent all day brainstorming ideas that would improve the downtown area. Staff photo by Rachel Pyle
What would Downtown Frankfort look like with a dog park and amphitheater? These are just two of the ideas community leaders spent Thursday discussing.

Imagining what Downtown Frankfort will look like in 10 years was the whole point of the "Enhancing the Value of Downtown Public Spaces" workshop, which brought together around 50 community stakeholder and representatives.

Attendees spent all day brainstorming ideas that would improve the Downtown area. Community leaders from all over Clinton County contributed to the meeting, as well as members of the Mayor's Youth Council joining in the process.

Purdue Extension specialist and educators Kara Salazar, Michael Wilcox and Steve Yoder led the meeting.

All the ideas generated Thursday were placed in one of seven categories - built, natural, human, cultural, political, social and financial - that are designed to create community capital and buy-in.

Some of the ideas thrown around included: creating more outdoor seating; having a gathering place for youth; developing smaller businesses; and creating pocket parks throughout the area.

A handful of attendees will have subsequent meetings to vet the ideas and create a high-quality public spaces action plan for Downtown Frankfort.

Creating a community that is appealing to middle income families is vital to the growth of Frankfort and Clinton County, said Mayor Chris McBarnes, who helped facilitate the workshops along with Clinton County Extension Director Melinda Grismer and Frankfort Main Street Program Executive Director Kim Stevens.

"(We must shift) our socio-demographic and economics to that middle class of individuals and in order to do that we must have a vibrant community," he said.

Similar plans have been created across the state, meaning other communities are also working to increase their population. McBarnes added that the way Frankfort will succeed will be due to the effort it puts in.

"We're going to out-work those other communities," he said.

Growing the Downtown has been a 30-year goal for the Frankfort Main Street, according to Stevens, who said she's excited to see people displayed a concerted effort and commitment to the Downtown.

"Our Downtown has gone through many, many changes and hopefully we will continue to go through those changes," she said.

Grismer noted that this initiative will require dedication and follow up. City leaders plan to apply for a planning grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to help further implementing the action plan.

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