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Evans adjusts to new role with the city

FIRST DAY: Kevin Evans worked his first day as the City of Frankfort's newDirector of Housing Initiatives and Property Maintenance on Monday in Old Stoney.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

Kevin Evans worked his first day as the City of Frankfort's Director of Housing Initiatives and Property Maintenance on Monday in Old Stoney.

Also the Center Township Trustee, Evans was officially appointed to his new position during Wednesday's Board of Public Works and Safety meeting. He takes over for Katrina Bell, who is Clinton County's new zoning administrator.

Evans didn't waste any time getting to work in his new role.

“It is going great,” he said. “I am currently working on six or seven properties that are blights in the community. We are going to be going through the process of summonsing a couple of them to court to fix their properties. They have had warnings in the past and haven't followed through. We are going to do that, and then some of the properties will be getting warnings for the first time, especially in the downtown and residential areas. Getting some footing and learning is what I am trying to do right now.”

Evans applied when the job was posted and had no second thoughts when he was offered the position.

“I spoke to my wife, my family and some others,” he said. “The decision was an easy one just because of the need of the community. So, when I weighed those things, I decided that I want to clean up these areas. I knew the importance of it and the impact I can make from here. Once I understood the impact that could be made, to me, it was a no-brainer decision to come here and fight for our community and work for our community through beautifying our neighborhoods and our downtown. This role can make a large impact.

“Housing is something that I think the community has really talked about a lot – fixing-up current housing, holding people accountable but then also focusing on how to bring new housing here,” he added. “There are a lot of housing opportunity that, hopefully, I can be a part of in attracting here, but it is also about cleaning up our neighborhoods … If your windows are boarded up, I am going to tell you to fix them. If you have particle board around the base of your house because you are trying to keep the water out, I am going to tell you to come fix it. I am going to hold you accountable. I'll give warnings. I'll give one. Whatever the compliance day is that we set, I expect it to be fixed by then. Otherwise, I am coming at you, and I will summons you to court. I think those are the things that our community has asked for – hold people accountable, and let's fix up our neighborhoods. Being a part of that, I am super excited about it.”

Evans says his new job will not affect his role as Center Township Trustee.

“I will remain the trustee,” Evans said. “I think I have organized that office in a way that it is no longer just Kevin Evans doing it. I have a great staff in place. We have great events coming up, and those things are happening without me as much as they are with me. I think I set a good vision there, that there is an expectation in my staff to be involved in those things. And I have set a vision of what that office should be and what it should be held accountable to.

“So, I am going to remain in that role currently and see if it functions the same way,” he continued. “I think it will because I do have such a great office staff and board in place. I would say it is no different than a county commissioner, a school board elected official or even my board members. We are all elected into those positions. The county commissioner is not in that courthouse every single day. They set the tone. And I think I set a very strong tone there of collaboration. I do night meetings and put a lot of time and effort in outside of just the office. So, I don't think there will be any hiccups there. I hope I make just as much of an impact here and I do there.”

Evans says that he came into the Center Township Trustee role with an aggressive approach, and he plans to do the same as the new Director of Housing Initiatives and Property Maintenance.

“I want to be aggressive. I think, when I took (Center Township Trustee), I was aggressive. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. From here, I have that same mindset. I know exactly what I want to do. I want to hold landowners accountable. I want to clean up out neighborhoods – not trash or cars, but the structures that exist on the properties. I want to develop a land bank. That is where you transfer properties in and out of the city's hands into developers' hands. And you get properties back on the tax roll. That is something I am going to be heavily involved with. Getting investors to come in and invest in our community is something that I am putting as a priority. And I am talking about investors for properties coming in and cleaning up some of these Victorian homes and reconverting to single-dwelling homes from multi-apartment homes right now, and re-beautifying those. And I want to revitalize our homeowners to be passionate about cleaning up their properties.

Evans says he also wants to activate a complaint process for a property that may be creating a problem in their community.

“That is really where my focus is going to be heavily – the acquisition and transfer of properties and the development of properties that are here, similar to what you see Iron Men (Properties) doing with the (Nickel Plate) lofts,” he said. “We want to get our homeowner to be proud of their property and investing here.”