Hot Springs downtown task force reveals plan

(KATV)-The Hot Springs downtown task force, made up of local business leaders have been meeting in weeks after the Majestic Hotel fire, trying to come up with a plan to revitalize the historic downtown district. The plan was released on Wednesday.The plan includes hiring a full time downtown economic development director, as well as holding routine forums so that property owners in the downtown can express their ideas and concerns for bringing more revenue and businesses downtown."We have had a strategic plan that we've had on the shelf and this is an opportunity to really dust that off and implement that and make it a living document going forward. I plan on my copy of this book to be dirty and dog-eared in the next few weeks because it's going to be something we use as a working plan going forward to redevelop our downtown," said Jim Fram, president of the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce.The city also has plans to implement a new thermal basin district fire ordinance, which would bring all of the old historic buildings up to code.Several of the long term ideas proposed Wednesday would be to incorporate a splash pad for kids and create an open public thermal water pool. They would also like to develop the corridor on Central Avenue to connect to Oaklawn. The plan also called to create a central community gathering space like an amphitheater as well as to develop the area around former President Clinton's boy hood home. Another idea in the plan was to bring tech firms to the area in order to bring younger crowds, who would live in downtown apartments."Those ideas come from what we call our stretch goals. Those are things that we're probably not going to do next week but they are on our target list. Things that we want to do. And we're going to decide very incrementally how much those cost, where they might go and how we might achieve some of those things," Fram said. One member of the task force said he hopes the plan will encourage business owners and residents that change is coming. "I'm hoping that it's a perceived new day and commitment that we will do something to develop the downtown. I don't think I can hang my hat on any one thing other than a positive energy that i'm beginning to see and feel in the downtown area," said Randy Fale, a member of the task force.