The Paducah South Side Steering Committee is finalizing a master plan and refining an intersectional approach for this area of the city.
“The committee is (essentially) a liaison between the city and the residents of the community,” planning director Nic Hutchison said. “The city is counting on their connections to involve the community more in the planning process.”
A community engagement event at Robert Coleman Park on October 15 will help achieve the committee’s recreational goal, with the other four goals being housing, economic development, infrastructure and neighborhood vitality.
“At this point Certainty is around Coleman Park and working with the community to gather feedback on how to use this space. And at that time there will be elements that touch on all five areas,” Hutchison said, mentioning other subsequent engagement sessions.
Member Tommy Hollimon, also executive director of the Housing Authority of Paducah, hopes the event will help crowdsourcing.
“Almost like a big storyboard,” Hollimon said. “Our goal is to set up the booth and have different activities for community members to engage with us. If you want something in the park, where would you get it?
Besides Hollimon, the other nine members are Leslie Ballard, Reverend Charles Dunbar, Mark Fenske, Mike Muscarella, Kristian Prather, Connie Ragsdale, Sonya Thompson, Bryson Wells and Susan Ybarzalbal.
The committee has met approximately every six weeks since its first meeting in February.
City Commissioner Raynarldo Henderson said steady pace shouldn’t be confused with lethargy.
“Things are moving at a slower pace, but I want to emphasize that things are moving,” Henderson said. “The challenges we have in the Southside didn’t happen overnight, and none of them will be fixed overnight. We want to keep the engagement going, keep the conversation going, and we’ll start to see the things (develop).
“Home renovations and home ownership, though,” he said. “These are things I would like us to address very quickly.”
In April, city property owners attended a meeting of the Property Assessment Administration on the office’s ongoing goal of reassessing properties at their fair buy-in value.
Some, including Southside owner Jerri West, said their assessment had risen by tens of thousands despite living near several condemned homes.
“Unfortunately a lot of the houses aren’t up to standard. And there’s a lot of people renting, so they’re not at home,” Henderson said. “That plays a major role when you don’t have the finances. , you feel like you’re paying more than you have to, and then they come back and say you’re not paying enough.”
Committee members have been tossing around several ideas since February.
Hollimon mentioned more shelters in parks, refurbished basketball courts and “maybe” a community garden in Blackburn.
“There are some cell reception issues. There’s a part I’m driving, near where Bargain Hunt is,” he said.
Since 2020, the Housing Authority has extended its wireless hotspots in the social housing complexes of Blackburn, Dolly McNutt and Ella Munal.
“That’s something we tried to solve when the pandemic hit,” he said. “This stuff takes a long time – it’s not going to happen overnight. We have a master plan, and it will trickle down.
“Cellular coverage in Southside is not as fast as people need it to be, and our committee members – many of whom live in Southside – are commenting on this,” said Muscarella, executive director of Ambulatory Services at Baptist Health Paducah.
Muscarella mentioned an immediate first step.
“I take the bus to work,” he said, to understand the weak spots in the city’s transportation system.