Monday, January 4, 2016

Mayor says city needs to invest regularly in water and sewer repairs, but in streets and sidewalks this year

Midway's financial outlook is strong, but the city needs to start investing regularly in replacement of its old water and sewer lines, while making sidewalks and streets this year's top priorities, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told the city council Monday evening.

"We have to resist the urge of putting these projects off," Vandegrift said. "I think it’s appropriate that I use a train metaphor: let’s say every project we do is like a train going forward on the tracks, as each project is completed that train gets off at a spur and another train gets on and takes its place. We need to always make sure that there is a parallel track with a water and sewer line train running alongside it. It’s going to be a longer track but we can’t forget about the train that’s on it."

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift
Vandegrift's remarks were part of an annual report that all mayors in cities with the mayor-council form of government are required to make at least annually, according to a Kentucky law that is apparently little known. Vandegrift, who is starting his second year as mayor. said before the meeting that even if he were not required to do it, "It's a good organizing tool."

Vandegrift said the city's recent audit report made clear that it is in good financial condition, "and there is a lot of reason to believe it's going to get even stronger," with the coming of the American Howa Kentucky auto-parts factory that will employ 54 people. "AHK is likely to be the first of several light industrial clients at that site, and they are the perfect anchor for industrial development at Midway Station," the mayor said. "With all of this it is very possible that we will begin to experience a sea change in our revenue stream over the next several years."

The prospect of more development also poses challenges, Vandegrift said: "We are going to have to remain vigilant in making sure that all new development is sustainable and at a steady pace so that it never infringes upon what makes Midway special. We also still have water and sewer infrastructure that needs updating, sidewalks that need repair, and roads that need resurfacing."

The mayor said "the cost and difficulty" of replacing some water lines on Higgins Street showed that a "complete overhaul of Midway's oldest water and sewer lines is more than likely to take 10 to 20 years to complete. . . . But in the more immediate future, I think our primary focus this year needs to be on roads and sidewalks. We need to allocate money in the next fiscal year’s budget for paving more roads, with Northside Drive being the first priority. We also need to develop a comprehensive sidewalk plan, which a committee of the council has already begun work on. We need a clear policy on how we will encourage and/or assist property owners in repairing the sidewalks around the city that have become dangerous to public safety."

For Vandegrift's full report, click here.

Among other business, the council voted to waive certain requirements needed for sale of the 15 acres on which AHK will build, with the Woodford County Economic Development Authority posting a bond to be set by the Planning Commission. The tract does not have a final plat or sewer line, which the commission requires for sale of industrially zoned property.

The council also held first reading of an ordinance rezoning a lot at 327 Smith Street, which Vandegrift said had somehow not been properly zoned for decades. He said the property is being sold but the lender won't close until the zoning is residential, and the buyer is facing a possible increase in the mortgage interest rate, so the council agreed to hold a special meeting at 5:30 Thursday to give second reading and final approval to the ordinance.

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