PITTSBURG — The City of Pittsburg Tuesday night formed a new Downtown Advisory Board to advise the Pittsburg City Commission on downtown redevelopment.

The commission appointed Heather Horton, Leah Posterick, Mike Creel, John Long, Ruthe Ellen Simpson, Brad Snow and Kayla Spigarelli to the board.

Late last year the commission passed an ordinance authorizing the board, which Assistant City Manager Jay Byers said will have the responsibility of helping to plan the direction Pittsburg’s downtown shopping district will take.

Byers said in the past there was a group of people who would meet informally and irregularly to discuss downtown issues, but the time had come for a more formal entity which could make recommendations directly to the governing body.

“The downtown had a facelift a few years ago … and the hope was this would encourage development,” Byers said. “It had a positive effect, but it didn’t have as much of an impact as we had hoped.”

He said the hope is to develop a “mini strategic plan” which will complement and work within the larger Pittsburg strategic plan to enhance downtown development.

One of the priorities, he said will be encouraging building owners to increase the amount of housing downtown.

Byers said the majority of the second floors in downtown buildings are empty and would make excellent living space.

“We’re really trying to get more people to live downtown,” he said. “We’re looking at ways for the property owners to open that up. The more people you have living downtown the more vibrant it is.

“The retail will follow the rooftops, as they say.”

Part of the new group’s responsibilities will be looking for grant opportunities for the city and for property owners, while preserving the historic buildings downtown.

The group will be working closely with Downtown District Coordinator Jeff Wilbert, who will serve as secretary and an ex-officio member of the board.

In other business, the commission:

• Approved a staff request to enter into a design/build contract with American Ramp Company, of Joplin, for a new concrete skate park to be built at Schlanger Park. The cost of the plan will be approximately $8,000 and the final cost of the park will be determined by the design.

• Approved a staff recommendation to award the 2016/17 Parks and Recreation t-shirt bid to SP designs of Cape Coral, Florida, and:

• Approved a staff request to purchase a new Grasshopper mower for Mt. Olive Cemetery from Hy-Flo Equipment, of Pittsburg for $11,098.75.

The commission will next meet 5:30 p.m., Jan. 16 in the commission chambers of the Pittsburg Law Enforcement Center.

— Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. He can be emailed at prichardson@morningsun.net, or follow him on Twitter @PittEditor.