Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Council backs group's letter opposing Versailles bypass; mayor views Chamber's budget request favorably

By Paige Hobbs
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Midway City Council voted Monday evening to endorse a letter of expressed concerns from an alliance of Woodford County groups about proposed construction of a bypass in the Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor. 

The council also heard from the executive director of the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce, Don Vizi, who requested a $4,000 appropriation from the City of Midway for the 2015-16 budget. He got a favorable reaction from Mayor Grayson Vandegrift.

The Corridor Study Group is composed of members from various Midway organizations including the Woodford Coalition, Citizens for Sustainable Growth, Midway Citizens Group, Midway Renaissance, Pisgah Community Historic Association, and a Woodford county farmer.  They wrote a letter to the members of the Mobility Corridor Citizen’s Advisory Committee and representatives of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Co-Chair Joyce Evans spoke to the council on behalf of the group. The group is encouraging the ‘no build option.’ “People think it’s not a real option,” Evans said. ”It is a real option.”

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift elaborated, saying no-build is one of four possible options for this project,the other three where the extension would join US 60. The middle one is Midway Road (US 62). “You can extend Fall Springs Boulevard to US 60 . . .  or you don’t build this bypass at all,” said Vandegrift, a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee.

Council Member Daniel Roller added, “No build does not mean do nothing; it means do something to improve the volume of traffic flow in Versailles.” Roller suggested increasing signage along US 60 near the Bluegrass Parkway exit to help guide truck traffic to the Sylvania plant on US 62 west of Versailles. This would be a much less expensive option.

The list of concerns centered on safety of Midway citizens because of the potential for increased traffic along Midway Road. Another concern is whether it is appropriate to use road funds for this project when there are other roads and bridges that need repair and improvement.                               

The group proposed moving the “Federal AAA trucking highway” designation of the Midway Road portion from US 62 to US 60 to improve safety in the area. They also suggested making the needed repairs and improvements to existing roads rather than building a bypass.

In drafting the letter, Evans asked members of the community for support. Among others, council members Roller, Sara Hicks, Libby Warfield, and Kaye Nita Gallagher supported the letter. Vandegrift noted that they did not do so behalf of the city council. Council members Steven Craig and Bruce Southworth joined in the council’s endorsement.

For a PDF copy of the letter, click here. Last month, the council passed a resolution calling for "extreme caution and careful consideration" in the bypass design.

The mobility corridor citizen’s advisory committee will meet Thursday, March 5, to discuss plans for the project. Evans told the council no public input will be permitted at this meeting. UPDATE: This meeting was canceled due to heavy snow and will be rescheduled.

The chamber of commerce has approached the council several times for money without success when Tom Bozarth was mayor, but Vandegrift said after the meeting that he was 99 percent sure that he would put the request in the budget and let the council members decide.

In a letter to the council, Vizi explained how the funding would allow the chamber continued management of the community portal website, www.woodfordcountyinfo.com. The chamber is using it as way to boost economic development for the county. He was accompanied by Midway gallery owner Kenny Smith, who is chair of the chamber’s board this year.

In remarks to the council, Vizi offered to provide Midway a digital TV board to display activities of community organizations. There are six digital boards around Versailles.
Police and speeders: The Versailles Police Department, which patrols all of Woodford County, provided its 2014 annual report. Hicks requested the department break out statistics for Midway; specifically including the number of speeding tickets, where they occurred, the time of day, and the speed of vehicles going down Winter Street.

Warfield shared this concern, and said she and Hicks spoke with state Rep. James Kay about the speeding issue on Winter Street.  “He has some plans to help us . . . and we think the more information we have to back him up the better,” Warfield said. Vandegrift said he would make a request for those numbers.

Roach book: Dr. Jim Roach of The Midway Center for Integrative Medicine requested a resolution from the council endorsing his upcoming book, “God’s House Calls,” By declaring March 31 “God’s House Calls Day.” Roach said he has spoken with patient after patient who have had spiritual near-death experiences. “They don’t want to come back from death. . .they’re not afraid of death anymore,” said Roach. The book will discuss the science behind these experiences.

Vandegrift said city attorney Phil Moloney would draft a resolution and present it at the next council meeting, March 16. The book will be available March 28, Roach said.

Water project: The council approved a resolution authorizing Vandegrift and city clerk Phyllis Hudson to sign the final assistance agreement between the city and state for the Higgins Street water line project. Due to the recent weather, the project will be delayed two weeks, now starting March 16. Completion is expected by the end of April.

Vandegrift expressed his gratitude for the cooperation of Midway College during this project as they allowed the city to store materials on their soccer field. “There was very good cooperation from the city and the college,” said Vandegrift.

Vandegrift noted the new fire truck has been delivered and is in town.

Weather: Gallagher made a comment about several sidewalks in town that are still frozen over. Vandegrift said, “Each business owner has responsibility for the sidewalks. . . . It’s an ordinance, we should be enforcing it . . . there are probably penalties attached to it.”  He said he would look into the matter.

Vandegrift concluded the meeting by complimenting the job of Wright Farm Services, a company based in Richmond, for their efforts clearing streets during the recent weather. “We had the best looking streets around,” said Vandegrift.

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