Changes proposed to Main Street Winchester

Published 4:00 pm Friday, June 10, 2022

Note: An earlier version of this story and the one that appeared in print mistakenly listed the executive director position as a program and that the DDIF program was not part of MSW when it actually is. It also been updated to further reflect that the in the proposal the city would contribute $75,000 per year to the new MSW.

Significant changes might be coming to the city’s Main Street Winchester (MSW) department.

During a board of commissioners work session on Wednesday, local businessman Chad Walker proposed a number of changes that would alter the department’s structure.

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The proposal has six different components: if approved it would see the department withdraw from the Kentucky Main Street Program, the city would dissolve the executive director position, the city would contribute $75,000 for a ten year period to the reorganized MSW per year, its the organization’s bylaws and its program area would be redefined, the Downtown Development Investment Fund (DDIF) would have more specific parameters for who could sit on the board, and finally MSW would become an independent 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that would hold and manage a separate bank account while still reporting about its financial activities to the city.

A group of downtown business owners that were in attendance at the meeting voiced their displeasure with the current state of MSW. There have been several board resignations over the past few months.

Commissioners Kitty Strode and JoEllen Reed said that something needs to be done to improve MSW. Mayor Ed Burtner and Commissioner Joe Chenault advocated for a future meeting on the subject to the dismay of many in attendance.

The city plans to consider the issue again at the next commission meeting in two weeks time.

Currently Main Street Winchester has an executive director that is a city employee and a board of directors with members appointed by different municipal entities. Majority of its funds are raised by the organization itself and also come from its community partners.

The department’s web site states that it’s mission “is to preserve, restore, enhance, and promote Downtown Winchester for business, entertainment, and living” and that it’s vision is to “create a vibrant destination for residents, visitors, and businesses through preservation, adaptive reuse, and promoting diverse and innovative cultural activities.”