Thinking About Fort Scott’s Future Growth

Christopher Zimmerman and John Robert Smith lead a discussion on Fort Scott’s future plans with members of the community on Feb. 26 at the River Room Event Center.

City officials, county officials and members of the community gathered for a workshop on strategically growing the community.

A U.S.  Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development Grant provided funds for a  Smart Growth America workshop in Fort Scott on Feb. 26, through the initiation of efforts by the City of Fort Scott leaders.

Smart Growth America workshop leaders John Robert Smith, Christopher Zimmerman, Andrew Justus spoke, along with Dan Fischer, community program director for USDA Rural Development.

County personnel gathered data specific to the county and the city before the workshop and Smith and Zimmerman presented that data to the group.

The group also interviewed some local people before the workshop.


They found that Fort Scott people are passionate, have a strong work ethic, the quality of life is high and people are friendly.


Also, there is a shortage of well-paying jobs (that offer enough pay to support families) and a shortage of quality housing.


Downtown Is The Heart


Downtown is the heart of the community and some ideas for making the area more invited were given by the Smart Growth presenters: take boards off windows, put up awnings, plant more vegetation and trees, improve street lighting at pedestrian level, and mark crosswalks clearly.


These little increments of change can add to economic development, Zimmerman said.


The presenters then led a small group exercise to brainstorm efforts that could be done, short term.

Here are the results of that exercise:

  • Make pedestrian and bike transportation improvements.
  • Connect Fort Scott Community College students to downtown via a bike/pedestrian pathway.
  • Rehab existing residential and other structures.
  • Look for funding to finance community improvements like housing and commercial spaces.
  • Make a gateway to the city from US 69 Highway.
Following small-group input, these are the ideas for helping Fort Scott in planning for the future that were displayed by the Smart Growth group.

The presenters met with city officials to help review some of the data gathered and possible actions, following the meeting.

Fort Scott Economic Director Rachel Pruitt said she would have a report to the city commission soon, on those  possible actions.

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