March 28, 2012 - Kevin Stephison has decided to call it quits as both the chairman of the Oxford Downtown Development Authority and an elected member of the Oxford Village Council.
He cited the reason for his resignations as "personal," not political, in nature.
"My free time is getting very scarce," Stephison said. "I was kind of hoping I could balance the multiple balls and keep them in the air, but it's beginning to take its toll on me."
Stephison's last DDA meeting will be April 16 and his last village council meeting will be either the second or fourth Tuesday in April.
"I have to stop, evaluate and make some decisions for myself based on personal necessities rather than (on) the village, the downtown and the politics that I've allowed to kind of run everything for the last three or four years," he explained. "I enjoy what I do. I hope nobody misunderstands that. I absolutely enjoyed being on the DDA and being on the council.
"I've just kind of reached a point where some decisions have to be made and I've got to take some personal time to figure it out. It's much easier to let somebody (else) step in than just say, 'Hey guys, I'm going to be absent for two or three months while I weigh the decisions I have to make."
No stranger to local politics, Stephison was first appointed to the DDA board in July 2006. He resigned in December 2007, but was then reappointed in 2010. He was elected to the village council in September 2011 and has served on both boards ever since.
Looking back over his time on the DDA board, Stephison noted he's "proud of the way that we've managed to make the DDA into a team."
"We're running smoothly on all eight cylinders at the moment," he said. "We have little hiccups here and there, but we've managed to get everything moving in the right direction."
Stephison indicated he's pleased by the "willingness of all the other (DDA) board members to be active volunteers."
"Everyone, for the most part, is involved at some level with all the committees," he said.
Stephison feels the DDA's executive director, Madonna Van Fossen, is ready to take on more of a leadership role.
"That was one of my big pushes – having her out in front as an executive director with a better understanding of all the facets that go into the DDA's job," he said.
Looking toward downtown Oxford's future, Stephison said he's "ecstatic to see where we're going with the streetscape."
"I don't think it's going to happen overnight, but it's at least pointing to a direction that we could be going (in)," he said, referring to the $4.66 million proposal to revamp the downtown area to make it more visually appealing and more pedestrian-friendly.
Stephison believes the streetscape vision ties together all the studies and plans the DDA's commissioned over the years.
"I know there's been a lot of complaints about all the money spent on studies, etc.," he said. "(The streetscape plan) brings them all together in one approach, so we can keep the focus of where to go. It's all there."
Stephison's also excited about the ideas being worked on by groups of Lawrence Tech University (LTU) students, who've also been looking into ways make the downtown more accessible, more connected and more attractive to pedestrian visitors (see story on Page 1).
"I think once everything's said and done it will be quite a comprehensive master plan of where the DDA can go over the next 10 to 15 years," he noted. "That's been my goal since I first joined the board – get them out of the immediate here and now, and start looking at the future of where we could be going."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.