CARBONDALE — City leaders are putting the brakes on hiring a consultant to help develop a master plan for the downtown area until more public input can be included in the process.
At their meeting this week, members of the City Council informally agreed to hold off on selecting a consultant to help with instituting such a plan until members of the public, including an advisory panel selected in early June, have a chance to weigh in on the matter.
That advisory panel has yet to formally meet. The city issued a request for proposals from consultants in May and has received multiple responses.
“We want this to be a very open public process,” Mayor Don Monty said Tuesday. “We don’t want this to be a situation where somebody comes from outside the community and essentially brings their preconceived notions of what are the proper ways to develop a community.”
Councilwoman Jane Adams said she wasn’t confident any of the proposals received address the city’s real goals downtown, adding that the city should back up and make sure the process is done properly.
“I think we sort of need to back up and pull the cart back into the barn and get the horse out of the stable and hook it up and move forward,” Adams said. “Right now the cart is just barreling down the road, and the horse is still standing with its harness on — the horse being the advisory committee and the cart being the consultants and what they’re going to do.”
City Manager Kevin Baity said he would take the concerns back to the city’s staff and formulate a strategy for engaging the advisory panel more thoroughly in the process. Baity said he will report back to the Council on the matter at one of August’s meetings.
The city is looking to develop a long-term plan for further development of the downtown district. Right now, a multi-story housing and retail project is under construction at the site of the former 710 Bookstore — a development that on its own will dramatically alter the appearance of the city’s downtown area.