Just as Judge Paul Miller has witnessed changes in society, so Bill Frost, who retired last week as Manhattan’s city attorney, has watched — and helped shape — the city’s growth for the last 35 years.
Both the city’s population, which just a couple of years ago broke through the 50,000 threshold, and the physical size have increased sharply in his tenure. He’s provided expertise for dozens of city commissioners and more than a few city managers over that time, offering legal advice and guidance about how commissioners could accomplish their goals.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Frost cited downtown redevelopment — a perpetual focus of city commissions — as among the most time consuming issues he’s dealt with. Longtime residents recall that before the north and south end redevelopments became matters of public debate, citizens fought over the construction of Manhattan Town Center. That facility, which opened in the late 1980s, has served downtown and the city as a whole well but still has the capacity to stir hard feelings.
A strong downtown is essential for a community’s identity, even if the community, as is the case with Manhattan, is growing in just about every direction possible. That growth, and the large and small suggestions during countless commission meetings that have made it possible, seems reward enough for Mr. Frost. As he said, “I guess the single most important thing to me overall is that from 1975 to 2012, Manhattan has grown enormously, and to have some small role facilitating it.”