Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Committee discusses park improvements, permit fees for events, cemetery policies, City Hall work

By Melody Bailiff
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

A committee of the Midway City Council started moving Monday to resolve a heavy agenda of issues and projects.

Efforts to improve Walter Bradley Park and resolve safety concerns with the back of City Hall were set as long-term projects. Consideration of a noise ordinance, tiered permit fees for events and an identification of downtown garbage cans were set as short-term issues.

Mayor Tom Bozarth told the Cemetery, City Property and Ordinance/Policy Committee, “There needs to be a long range look at the park.” Bozarth said the addition of a footbridge at the end of Gratz Street to create a pedestrian entrance could get the community involved with volunteers, who could build the bridge for much less than a previous six-figure estimate.

Bozarth, who appointed the committee and is a member by virtue of his office, also said bathrooms were needed and they could be placed near the dog park at a reasonable cost.

Grayson Vandegrift, a member of the committee, said beautifying the park would “be a long term project but we can make it really nice out there.”

The library will add an “outdoor reading room” behind the library, which overlooks the park, said committee Chair Sharon Turner. She suggested the possibility of stringing lights in the rock quarry that no longer operates. This could make the area into an amphitheater, she said. Vandegrift said, “I love the idea of an amphitheater.” (Click on image for larger version)
The committee agreed to resolve safety issues regarding the City Hall building as a long-term project. Bozarth said, “There’s not a real hurry;” Turner added, “But it is something we eventually need to do.” She said the open top on the back porch allows animals to come inside, and the uncovered stairs are dangerous.

Bozarth said the work needs to fit the architecture of the building, so this could be an opportunity for students from the University of Kentucky's College of Design. Turner said she will check with UK. Bozarth also said this project will require time and the committee should not rush it.

Downtown restaurants may need to be more cautious about leaving their garbage and recycling cans on the street. Cans left on the street may smell and the committee found this issue to be a problem. To enforce the ordinance already in place that prohibits leaving cans out after garbage runs are made, the committee will work with the hauler, Rumpke, to place some sort of identification on the cans. This would place pressure on businesses to remove their cans from the street at the designated time.

Fines for the restaurants in violation were not discussed. Bozarth said he would contact the health department to see how the cleanliness of the cans can be enforced.

The committee decided organizations that host outdoor events in Midway should be required to pay a permit fee. “We've toyed around with an idea of a tier system depending on participants,” Turner said. most cities do charge a permit fee so I think it is something worth looking at.”

Vandegrift said that if the town is used for financial gain of the event holders, they should give something back to Midway monetarily.

Bozarth noted that some events such as the Bourbon Chase, a team race that has Midway near the end of its 200-mile course, donate to charities but not to the city. “I was told that it gave away $150,000 to charity last year or the year before, and I mean, well, charity starts at home.”

Permit fees could be used to help cover the wear and tear of the city that may result from hosting events, Vandegrift said. The committee agreed to start a review of other cities’ permit fees.

The committee will also study other cities' noise ordinances, in response to several vehicle-related noise complaints. “We've had a consistent request for years to put in a noise ordinance. I think one of the biggest complaints is still car stereos,” Turner said.

Bozarth, Turner and Vandegrift discussed concerns about how to effectively enforce a noise ordinance. “By the time you get the phone call,” Vandegrift said, “it is too late to enforce” the ordinance. Turner said she would check into what ordinances may already exist, such as no music after 10 p.m.

The committee, with help from former council member Doris Leigh, who headed a separate Cemetery Committee in the last council term, decided that the last Monday in January would be the deadline to remove items such as Christmas wreaths from graves in the cemetery. Turner even though she has only received two phone calls on the issue of removing wreaths, the cemetery ordinance as a whole needs to be consistent.

“Another thing we have been doing is preparing stones and foundations,” Turner said. “We set aside money every year for this. Some of these are beyond our repair but some can be fixed.” She said the committee makes repairs with the help of a map and a database done as part of an Eagle Scout project. “We also had them rate them (the stones) on what needs immediate attention,” she said.

Council Member Sara Hicks, the other member of the committee, was not present at the meeting.

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