Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Council hears plans, pleas from Francisco's Farm; votes to seek state loan to replace Higgins Street water lines

By Caleb Oakley and Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Changes to the Francisco’s Farm arts festival, such as its admission price, location and quality of the art, were outlined in Monday’s Midway City Council meeting.  Council members also discussed replacing water lines on Higgins Street and an ordinance for adjustments to bills in case of water leaks.

Francisco's Farm was last held at Midway College in 2010.
Jon Maybriar, a member of the Francisco’s Farm planning committee, updated the council on the festival, which he said is in “a new phase.” This year’s festivities will be free, will be held about five weeks earlier to avoid hot weather, and after three years at Equus Run Vineyards will return to Midway College.

“They, I think, are more excited about having us back than us going out there,” Maybriar said. “It just couldn’t be a better relationship working with them.”

Francisco’s Farm will transpire May 17-18, the same weekend as the Art in the Park festival in Versailles, a one-day occasion on Saturday, May 17.  Only Francisco’s Farm is juried, which means the artists’ works were judged and approved by a jury in order to appear.

The jury accepted 93 of the 153 artists who applied, and almost 70 are coming, said Maybriar and Council Member Sara Hicks, president of Midway Renaissance, which sponsors the event.

“We raised the bar on the quality of the artists,” said Maybriar. “We wanted it to be a little better quality than where it’s maybe slipped in the last couple of years. If we don’t have as many artists, that’s by design. . . . We’re really trying to make sure the quality is there, and meets the expectation of people who come to a fine arts show.”

The festival will no longer charge $10 a car for parking. Making it free “really turns it back to the community,” Maybriar said. “It’s the community’s event.”

Maybriar said he was seeking both in-kind and financial contributions from the city, but acknowledged that his request for money was on short notice. The city has a little more than three months left on its current budget.

Mayor Tom Bozarth didn’t reply directly to the request for financial aid, but asked Maybriar to list only the in-kind help he would like from city employees, and when he would need it. He asked him to avoid weekend work, which incurs overtime. Maybriar said the tear-down of booths on Sunday will take less time that the set-up on Friday.

Maybriar also articulated the need for volunteers to serve on committees, design posters and banners, and to help set up and tear down. He asked the council to put an appeal for volunteers on water bills, and after the council agreed, Bozarth said that would be done on the bills going out in late April.

The festival’s notice in last week’s Woodford Sun said volunteers will also be needed to direct traffic, drive golf carts, deliver water to artists, occupy booths while artists take breaks, and provide information at entrances.

“We’re open to a lot of new volunteers coming back home again,” Maybriar said, adding that homecoming is “sort of a theme” for the 2014 festival.

Maybriar gave the council his phone number, 948-3621, so anyone interested in helping with Francisco’s Farm could contact him. Volunteer coordinator Mary Penn is at 699-9894. Maybriar said people can also volunteer online at www.FranciscosFarm.org.

Construction projects, other issues discussed

Chris Stewart of HMB Engineers, a consultant to the city, announced Midway is eligible for a federal-state loan to replace water lines on Higgins Street.  The Kentucky Infrastructure Authority would loan Midway $198,000 at a 2.75 percent, repayable over 20 years.  That would cost the average city water customer an extra $1.43 per month, council members said after the meeting.

The council voted to submit the application, which is due April 14, with the assurance by Stewart that they would still have time to decide whether to accept it. The KIA would not bring the project to its board until June 2014 and the city would not have to bid on construction until June of 2015.

“I think this would be good for the city,” Bozarth said after the council meeting. Stewart said during the meeting that the council might also want to do some drainage work on Higgins Street during the construction to avoid tearing up the street and yards twice.

The council voted to allow Vanhook Enterprises of Somerset, which won the contract to build a wheelchair ramp on Main Street, to use three parking spaces for equipment and materials. Stewart said Vanhook will begin mobilizing its equipment this week and start construction Monday, March 24. The company would need to do this to meet its completion date of April 23, followed by stone facing by Renner Construction, which would finish by May 7, he said.

Stewart said Renner had hoped to use its bond for the recently completed Gratz Street project for the ramp work, but was unable to that, and wanted the council to reimburse its bonding fee of $100. The council agreed, raising Renner’s total contract price to $5,600.

The council spent considerable time discussing a proposed water bill adjustment ordinance.  The current ordinance allows individuals to seek reimbursement from the city in the case of a water leak, but only by reducing the sewer charge, which is based on water usage.  The proposed ordinance would allow those outside the city limits who are not on city sewer to request an adjustment.

Council members were on board with the idea of an adjustment, but disagreed over whether to also give a discount on water bills. They tentatively decided against such a discount, and asked city attorney Phil Moloney to draft the ordinance accordingly. For details of the discussion, see the video below.

The council unanimously voted to repeal and replace an ordinance prohibiting business after midnight except at restaurants and private clubs, which are regulated by another ordinance. The new ordinance expands the exemption to include the Interstate Service Business (B-5) zone, so the new Shell station and convenience store at Interstate 64 now complies with city law, according to Council Member Sharon Turner.

Bozarth announced that he would deliver his proposed budget to the council on April 7, and that the council would hold budget work sessions April 14 and 28 at 9 a.m. at City Hall. The council will have regular meetings April 7 and 21.

Here is a video of the council meeting:

Internet access for videostreaming provided by Verizon Wireless MiFi

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