Letter to the Editor: Deb McCoy

We do have a Comprehensive Plan!


I have asked numerous times if the City had a 5 year or 10 years Comprehensive Plan for the City of Fort Scott. I never received an answer from any City Official, City employee, or City Manager stating YES WE DO! While researching the Fort Scott City Commissioners Agendas and Minutes of the Meetings I came across a City of Fort Scott Comprehensive Plan with survey results that was put together by the Planning Commission Board and presented on March 20th, 2018 at the City Commissioners Meeting. In reviewing the meeting agendas after that meeting, this comprehensive plan was never discussed or implemented. Look at the amount of tax dollars that we have spent on surveys and studies over the past 5 years when we had a comprehensive plan that was completed and introduced by the Planning Commission Board in 2018. Why was this Comprehensive Plan not implemented?

 Let me share some of the characteristics of this Plan:

  1. It is a physical plan that reflects social and economic values and is a guide for the physical development of the community. It translates values into a scheme that describes how, why, when, and where to build, rebuild, or preserve the community.
  2. It has a long range design, covering a period greater than one year to 5 years that expresses current policies that will shape the future rather than show a rigid image of the future itself.
  3. It is comprehensive and covers the entire city geographically, not merely one or more sections, and it covers areas outside of the City, referred to as the Growth Area.
  4. The plan is a state of policy covering community desires as quantity, character, location and rate of growth and how these desires can be achieved.
  5. Finally the plan is a guide to decision making by the Planning Commission, the City Governing body, City Manager and City Staff.

The Chapters in the Comprehensive Plan Include:

  1. Introduction
  2. Community Character
  3. Housing
  4. Economic Development
  5. Recreation and Natural & Historical Resources
  6. Infrastructure and Transportation
  7. Downtown and Fort Scott National Historic Site
  8. Code Enforcement
  9. Land Use/Growth Management


–  A quote from Chapter 4 states – “Without funding for economic development initiatives, without the ability to actively recruit business to Fort Scott, and without the means to extend the infrastructures necessary to accommodate new business growth, the community is vulnerable to economic stagnation and decline.” We also need to ensure that the City’s zoning and related regulations that promote good site design and protect business and commercial development from inappropriate development on neighboring properties. A long term goal would be to attract new industries that complement Fort Scott’s economy and utilize its labor force. This would also include the need to plan for future employment growth by having sites “shovel ready” to develop.

– One of the goals mentioned was to work with Fort Scott Community College to develop trade and labor apprenticeship programs that include heating/air, plumbing, electrical, carpenter and building trades, street and infrastructure maintenance, etc. that would provide qualified employees for local positions. Having a job to sustain a household, and affordable housing to accommodate the employee is another important factor.

– Another Goal from Chapter 4 states – that retaining existing businesses and industries and supporting their expansion is the foundation of our economy and is the source of the greatest percentage of jobs grown in the community. This means we need to develop the means to identify when a local company may be considering relocating or closing, and provide services to address the firm’s business needs and keep it in Fort Scott. Think about the loss of businesses over the past 5 years. Winery, Beaux Art Center, Peerless expanded their production to Iola and Nevada, Mercy Hospital, Dialysis Center, Price Choppers, Shoe Department, and Goody’s, just to name a few.

– Chapter 8 covers Code Enforcement, “which is the City’s use of its legal authority, often referred to as the “police power” to help ensure that the health and safety of residents is not adversely affected by property conditions. This includes poor yard maintenance, storage of items that can be hazardous, and lack of care resulting in property deterioration which directly impacts quality of life in a community. Property values as well as community self image are affected by blight and lack of maintenance. ‘Property Rights’ implies responsibility. No property should be used or maintained in a manner which downgrades its or another’s value, use, enjoyment or safety. This coupled with lack of investment in infrastructure such as improved streets or sidewalks, breeds, an aura of negativism which impeded a desirable ‘community spirit’”


It makes me wonder why this Comprehensive Plan was never implemented. It is obvious that a lot of time and effort was made in putting this plan together. The Plan was built on the past to create the vision for the future and could have easily been implemented into an active plan that would certainly be applicable today.


Why do we keep spending money on all of these studies when we had the Blueprint to a Comprehensive Plan presented 5 years ago just sitting in our files waiting to be implemented? Isn’t it about time we took some action towards a plan well thought out, well written and community oriented so that we as citizens could also participate in?


To get a copy of this Comprehensive Plan to the Fort Scott City website under Government and click on Agenda & Minutes. Pull up the March 20th, 2018 Commissioner Meeting notes. Go to page 57 thru 126.


Deb McCoy


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