Corbin tourism commission taking on downtown responsibilities

Corbin Tourism Director Maggy Kriebel mentioned the possibility of involving the city's parks in events such as a "Shakespeare in the Park" series and a "Picking in the Park" series where local musicians would be invited to play music. In this file photo, a art gallery hop was held in Nibroc Park in 2017. | File photo

CORBIN - On Tuesday, board members of the the Corbin Tourist and Convention Commission voted to approve the board taking over the city’s Downtown and Main Street Program for the upcoming fiscal year.

This decision comes after Corbin Tourism Director Maggy Kriebel announced, during a special-called tourism meeting last week, that she and city officials had been in preliminary talks about the board taking over the downtown program.

Last month, the city eliminated the downtown manager's position due to budgetary constraints brought on by the coronavirus and lockdown. Originally it was announced that the Downtown and Main Street Program would be handled by the city, but after Tuesday’s meeting, those responsibilities will now be handled by Corbin’s tourism board.

After last week’s tourism meeting, Kriebel said she once again sat down with city officials to discuss the responsibilities and expectations of the board, provided it took over the program.

Kriebel was informed that taking over the program would include oversight of the Downtown Corbin’s Facebook page, maintaining a relationship with the Corbin’s downtown merchants, being a liaison between the merchants and the city, the oversight of existing events, advertising events, and ensuring the retention of downtown’s businesses and merchants, amongst other things.

“I had discussions with some of the merchants and city commissioners and what Main Street needs in order to continue to survive and thrive is retail and entertainment," Kriebel said. "If you don’t have retail and entertainment coupled with your restaurants, then you lose because people come in and go out. They’re not staying downtown, they’re not spending their money.”

Kriebel explained that the city and its downtown area were currently in what she called a development phase.

“We’re trying to build our destination and give people something to come to and keep them here,” she noted. “That’s what we’re doing, that’s what is going on with downtown. Downtown is still going through a renaissance, so you’ve still got to create that destination feel and it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes a long time.”

Some of the new responsibilities brought on by Kriebel and the board will be aided in an annual $25,000 sum that the city will give Corbin tourism for taking over the downtown program. According to Kriebel, this money is to be used at the tourism board’s discretion for marketing, hosting, and planning downtown events.

Kriebel also reported that the city has a $36,000 line-item in its budget allotted for downtown events. Any downtown events planned and hosted by the tourism commission in the coming year will be taken out of this line-item of the city’s budget.

The first thing Kriebel says she wants to do is to call a meeting with the downtown merchants to discuss any support they feel the need.

“I think they need to be a lot more involved in the decision making,” Kriebel said. “I think the city needs help communicating that the city is not leaving those businesses high and dry. The businesses have to realize the amount of money the city has put in to redevelopment of downtown and the beautification, and things like that,” she added. “So there’s some miscommunication kind of going on in that regard.”

The board will also be responsible for coming up with new programming and events, as Kriebel says the city’s current administration feels some of downtown’s events have become out-dated.

Kriebel talked about potential events she would like to bring downtown, which include a possible outdoor food event involving all of downtown’s restaurants. She also mentioned the possibility of involving the city’s parks in events such as a “Shakespeare in the Park” series and a “Picking in the Park” series where local musicians would be invited to play music. Kriebel also said she would love to bring back Bike Night to downtown Corbin.

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