Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Council backs bonds for Rupp, hears plans for structure in park area and 4-way stop; bypass meeting Tuesday

By Nate Yates, Nick Roush and Jamilyn Hall
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Teelcommunications

The Lexington Center’s plans for $15 million in renovations to Rupp Arena will move forward, thanks to the city of Midway. At its meeting Monday, the City Council put the city's name on bonds that will finance renovation of Rupp Arena.

The council also heard from Boy Scout Eric Witt about his Eagle Scout project idea to build a multipurpose stage/structure behind the library and next to the dog park in Midway, and discussed the possibility of making the intersection of Stephens and Brand streets a four-way stop.

When Tom Bozarth was mayor of Midway and a top official of the Kentucky League of Cities, the league created the Kentucky Bond Development Corp. to issue bonds for communities to help fund projects. KLC representative Nancy Wylie and Joe Lakofka of The Ross Sinclaire bonding firm asked the council to lend the city's name to a $15 million KBDC bond issue for the Lexington Center Corp., which runs the Lexington Convention Center and Rupp Arena, for renovations and expansions to Rupp as part of a five-year project.

Using the city's name on the bond issue would allow the center to get a lower interest rate on bonds they sell to the bank. “In order for the banks to purchase bonds they have to have a bank-qualified issuer,” Lakofa said, adding that Lexington issues more bonds than the yearly $10 million limit for banks to loan tax-free to municipalities.

According to Lakofka, the corporation needed a community close to Lexington that would not be issuing bonds in the calendar year. The corporation will use $9 million of Midway’s bank qualification this year and $6 million next year.

Councilwoman Kaye Nita Gallagher joked, “As long as our money isn’t going into that big hole,” referring to the empty lot in downtown Lexington initially reserved for the CentrePointe project.

Midway will not be responsible for providing funds. Simply put, the resolution allows the bonds to be tax free because they will bear the name of a Kentucky municipality. According to the meeting agenda, the bond issue would be payable solely from revenues to be derived from a loan agreement with the Lexington Center Corp. to pay costs of financing the renovation and expansion of its convention and Rupp Arena facilities.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the resolution “is not unprecedented at all,” noting that Midway did the same for the Lexington Center when it built the Kentucky Basketball Museum.

Lakofka assured the council that the measure would not affect the city financially and they were still free to issue up to $4 million in bonds for the next calendar year. Council Member Daniel Roller asked if the city had any projects in the works and wanted the council to make sure they would not need more than $4 million in bonds for any of their projects.

“It takes a lot of money to build anything anymore,” Roller said.

Vandegrift said that he could not think of anything in the works over the next year that would cost “more than four million dollars.”

Multipurpose structure: Boy Scout Troop 400 member Eric Witt told the council about his Eagle Scout project plan to build a multipurpose stage/structure behind the Midway Branch of the Woodford County Public Library and Northside Elementary School.

Eric Witt's sketch of his proposed structure
Witt called the structure a stage, but council members said it would be a multipurpose structure. It would be 30 feet wide, 15 feet deep and approximately 17 feet high, with architecture that would resemble the library’s stone and woodwork. A line for electricity could be installed from the library. The structure could be used for a variety of purposes such as plays or concerts, but could also serve as a pavilion for people to use for picnics or outdoor activities.

“I’m building this for the library, Northside Elementary, anyone hiking the trails or enjoying a picnic by the dog park, and an outdoor gathering place for the City of Midway,” Witt said. The dog park was an Eagle Scout project, led by Tim Hagan.

Witt has estimated a budget of $23,693, with a majority going to contractors because scouts are not permitted to use power tools. The budget would come mostly from private donations, Vandegrift said. “We would have to raise money privately, but I believe it could be done,” he said. “I think we could get some in-kind donations with materials and probably some in-kind contributions for labor.”

Gallagher said they might be able to reach out to the library and the school district for money since the structure would also benefit their patrons and students.

The project could also get help from the mayor’s new citizen advisory committee on parks and trails. He said the committee’s goal is to find grants to fund an overall park system, but this project could also receive some of the benefits.

Witt came to receive feedback about the idea and see if the council had any ideas on whom to ask for donations. Roller said Witt needed to create a site plan for the structure so that when people went to donate they would know exactly what the structure would look like, as well as the lay of the land. Another thing the council wanted was a drawing that shows what the structure would look like from the side. (Image from Google maps)

Witt’s initial proposal is just the first step in what could be a lengthy process. He took note of several suggestions from council members. Sara Hicks, a theater major in college, suggested a different design to the roof for lighting purposes. Steven Craig suggested the surface be all concrete, rather than oak wood, to make maintenance easier.

Vandegrift said Witt met with him early on about ideas to benefit the city, and although the project is still in the early stages of planning and development, he said the project would be good for Midway and applauded Witt on taking on such a big project.

“He came to me asking for some ideas. I threw out a few, and he had a few as well. I commend him because he took the one that to me is, yes, the most ambitious, but it’s also the one that would probably have the most impact in our community,” Vandegrift said. He told Witt, “I like it when people think big, and you think big. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

There is no set start date for the project, but Witt intends to start next spring. 

Four-way stop: The council discussed making the intersection of Stephens Street and Brand Street a four-way stop. Council member Bruce Southworth proposed the idea because of how fast people are traveling through the intersection.

The council had previously discussed adding lines on the sides of the street, to make it seem narrower, but Southworth said a stop sign would be a better solution. “When you’re coming down Higgins, there’s a stop on Gratz. When you’re coming down Walnut, there’s a stop on Gratz. When you’re coming down Cross, there’s a stop on Gratz. Coming down Bruen, there’s a stop on Gratz, so what would be wrong with a stop on Stephens?” Southworth asked.

One concern the council had was how to alert motorists to new stop signs. Council Member Libby Warfield said the council should reach out to police for suggestions.

Southworth suggested having sawhorses with flashing lights on top to alert people that something new was up ahead. The council also discussed having signs with LED lights, powered by a small solar panel on top, so motorists would be sure to notice it.

The council plans on studying the potential impact to determine the best way to ensure safety at the intersection moving forward.

Meeting on Versailles bypass: Vandegrift announced that the final public meeting for the proposed Versailles bypass will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the KCTCS office in Versailles. The proposal is generally opposed in Midway, for fear it would route more truck traffic onto narrow US 62, which becomes Winter Street, the main north-south thoroughfare in Midway. For the Midway Messenger's report on possible routes for the bypass, click here.

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