Kent OKs $10,000 for downtown management

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The division of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, had expected to receive $10,000 in city funds last week. Instead, council voted to delay the release of the money until City Manager Lewis Steinbrecher could clarify conditions council had placed on the chamber.

Some council members said they believed the chamber was asked to contribute matching funds in January, when they voted to have the money administered through the Kent Community Development Department. Community Development Director Louis Zunguze said council's intent was unclear.

But Steinbrecher said he could find no record of a request for matching funds.

He recommended council approve the release of the money, but ask the district's advisory council to talk to city officials about a future strategy for downtown revitalization.

In a report to council, Steinbrecher said staff of the Community Development Department could help promote the central business district and recruit new businesses, while the chamber focuses on community events and activities to bring people to town.

The city also may be able to explore alternative funding sources to support such activities, he stated.

Councilman Wayne Wilson said although he supported releasing the funds, he believed questions about the funding should have been addressed sooner.

"I wish someone had come to us in February and said, 'This isn't clear,' " he said.

Only one resident, architect Doug Fuller, addressed council about the dispute over the money. Fuller said the city should honor its previous agreement, adding the district has made significant efforts to improve the downtown.

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