KABA president informs council of downtown study
At last night’s Common Council meeting, Mayor Keith Bosman introduced Todd Battle, president of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA), who gave the Council information on the formation of a Steering Committee that will update the master plan to guide downtown investment and development. Battle said, “We know how important it is to build a great community.” He gave an overview of the project, and he asked for the Council’s involvement, and in-kind support. “Working through the process is as valuable as the product. We are here to build consensus,” he continued.
The Steering Committee will involve public and private businesses, non-profit agencies, trade associations, etc. Members of the Steering Committee will include people such as Mayor Keith Bosman, Alderperson Theodore Ruffalo (the alderperson of the downtown district), Battle, Jean Moran (chief executive officer of LMI Packaging Solutions, Inc., and vice chair of KABA’s Board), Mark Fedyk (vice president, retail, of Jockey), Ric Schmidt (president and CEO of United Hospital System), Lou Molitor (executive director of the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce), Deanna Goodwin (director of marketing for the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau), Randall Troutman (president of Y-Link, an organization of young professionals, Janet Dietrich (member of the Business Improvement District (BID) Board and owner of the furniture store Seat Yourself), David Nankin (managing member of Legacy Property Management Services, LLC), Joseph Madrigano (lawyer, of the law firm Madrigano, Aiello & Santarelli, LLC), Mark Molinaro (chairman of the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors and principal in Partners in Design Architects), and other KABA and city staff from the City Development Department, such as Jeff LaBahn, Zohrab Khaligian, and Brian Reining.
A request for proposal (RFP) was sent out to obtain a professional firm to help with the project. “We received twelve responses to the RFP, and we conducted five interviews today,” said Battle. ”The scope of the project is to do research and data gathering, assets, demographic analysis, trends, opportunities, public engagement, voice of the people, provide us with recommendations, and help us with implementation. The entire project should take six to eight months and will start either at the end of the year or in early January. It should be done by the summer of 2012. Usually, a project of this sort costs six figures, but we will be spending $100,000 to $150,000. The outcome should be a downtown development strategy. We need your (the Common Council’s) support.”
The boundaries of the downtown area, as outlined in the RFP, were from the Lakefront to the Metra Station, 45th Street to 60th Street. “That could change,” Battle said, as they work through the project.
Alderperson Ray Misner had a few comments. “Ted Ruffalo is only one alderperson of seventeen. He’s a good one. But, I’d like you to involve the Common Council to avoid scenarios that are contrary to the direction or other plans that the city may have. You’ve taken a good first step by telling us about the process.” Battle said that there would be focus groups, public input meetings, interviews, three or four phases, like he mentioned earlier: information gathering, analysis, and recommendations. Misner asked for milestone updates to the Council along the way. “It would also be helpful to me,” Misner stated, “if you would take minutes of your meetings, recordings, so that we could keep abreast of the project. Could you also share the RFP with the aldermen and the responses you received?” Battle promised to do all of that, except tape recording the meetings. He said that they don’t have the technology. Misner offered the city staff’s assistance in that regard.
Bosman had a few comments. “Three years ago was when we started thinking about doing this. Now, we have enough good news and the KABA study, which was done two years ago. The timing is right now.”
Alderperson Anthony Kennedy wanted to know who the County representative was. Mark Molinaro is the representative from the County. “Is the County contributing anything to the study?” “No,” was the response.
Ruffalo thanked Battle and the committee members. He stated that it was important to him and to the community long-term. ”If anyone has any concerns or suggestions, I’ll act as the conduit.”
Alderperson Katherine Marks wanted to know if something was going to be done with the uptown area. “Possibly, the trolley can connect the two.”