This rendering depicts the view from the southeast corner of the square, showing the proposed layout for the downtown corridor, which includes added green space, reconfigured parking, a water feature and pedestrian-centric amenities, from wider sidewalks to added signage. (Kimley-Horn courtesy rendering)
This rendering depicts the view from the southeast corner of the square, showing the proposed layout for the downtown corridor, which includes added green space, reconfigured parking, a water feature and pedestrian-centric amenities, from wider sidewalks to added signage. (Kimley-Horn courtesy rendering)
The Martinsville City Council approved the proposed $20 million downtown master plan during its Monday night meeting, a plan the city has been working on for the last several months.

During the Aug. 27 meeting of the Martinsville Plan Commission, commission members gave a favorable recommendation to the city council.

City engineer Josh Messmer, who has been spearheading the plan, was not able to attend Monday’s meeting and city attorney Anne Cowgur spoke in his place.

Cowgur said that she handed each member of the council a copy of the resolution.

“So, what we are looking for from you all is approval of the resolution that approves the downtown master plan,” Cowgur said. “This will become then part of the actual plan document.”

Martinsville native Kyle Baugh, who works for the architect and design firm Kimley-Horn, spoke during Monday’s meeting.

Kimley-Horn is the design firm which the city contracted with to complete the downtown plan.

Baugh said a project in the downtown was a passion of his when he was in high school and college.

“I have always wanted to see a better downtown Martinsville,” Baugh said. “This is kind of a moment in time for Martinsville. It is very important.”

City councilman Eric Bowlen asked about parking in the downtown area, and about public safety.

“From a courthouse perspective, with what goes on and takes place in a courthouse, public safety is obviously an issue,” Bowlen said.

Baugh said that parking is always an issue in a downtown.

“But, when it comes to revitalizing a downtown, … one of the greatest impacts of the revitalization of the downtown is the safety of that revitalization,” Baugh said.

He said the more activity and vibrancy brought to a downtown, the safer a downtown becomes because there are more people and lighting on the streets.

“You may lose some parking spots, but you are going to increase the safety in a downtown revitalization project,” Baugh added.

City councilman Kris Fuller asked how much the project is expected to cost.

Ken Remenschneider, also with Kimley-Horn, said that the action plan looks at comparisons to other nearby cities, which helps the company get a cost estimate.

“These are order of magnitude costs,” Remenschneider said. “We need to do the detail design to get the line-item costs so that we can have real budget numbers for you to plan to fund the project overtime.”

According to Kimley-Horn staffer Brandon Schreeg, the cost is up to $20 million.

Martinsville Mayor Shannon Kohl said there are grants that the city could apply for to help offset some of the funds.

“Grants are a lot of work,” Kohl said. “But they are there.”

Schreeg said there is going to be an “all of the above strategy” concerning paying for the project.

“We have all of that in the planning document as far as what sources are available,” Schreeg said.

City councilman Chip Keller noted that he was on the project’s steering committee and that he is really excited about the work.

He noted that the city of Franklin worked with Kimley-Horn for that city’s revitalization project, which has helped that city’s economy.

Keller also noted that the investment in the downtown Franklin area has spread throughout that city.

The members of the city council approved the plan unanimously, 7-0.
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