Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mayor putting Northside Drive repaving, sidewalk repairs, park work in budget to be proposed soon

Northside Drive (Photos by Katherine Stach)
By Katherine Stach
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

As he sketches a city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift has some ideas to highlight, such as road repairs, park improvements and sidewalk repairs.

The biggest project would be the repaving of Northside Drive, the road that runs from the Midway Grocery up to Northside Elementary School. The condition of the road is of concern considering the high volume of school buses and children that use it for transportation.

Potholes on Northside Drive
The mayor says he has set aside $80,000 for repaving, but does not plan on having to use the full amount. He says the job will cost around $60,000, and any funds that remain will be used to repave other streets with issues.  Vandegrift said he considers Northside Drive to be the worst road in town.

“I’ve told the council this year that I think our top priority should be roads and sidewalks,” Vandegrift said in an interview.

The mayor has also planned to budget $25,000 for repairing sidewalks. That funding will not be spent, however, until the city is able to secure a grant for sidewalk improvement, he said.

The city has run into difficulty with sidewalks, mainly because property owners are responsible for repairs. A city ordinance holds that a property owner can be charged $10 a day for a damaged sidewalk, but it cannot expect a property owner to pay the fee if they are not financially able to complete the repair themselves.

Vandegrift said the council plans on reworking that law so that it is fair to both the city and the property owner, which could mean splitting the repair costs.

Last fall, Vandegrift appointed a committee to address the city’s sidewalk concerns and to draw up an extensive plan for improvement. Council Member Bruce Southworth was named chair of the sidewalk committee, and Council Members Kaye Nita Gallagher and Steven Craig were also appointed to the committee.

The committee has had difficulty coming up with a comprehensive plan and a clear policy for the maintenance and repair of sidewalks.

One of the city’s main concerns is the injuries that can come from walking on damaged sidewalks, and although property owners are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their sidewalks, the city itself can still be held liable for any possible injuries sustained. 

Vandegrift said he also plans to allocate $10,000 for minor improvements at Walter Bradley Park.

Some of the improvements suggested by citizens who attended a public hearing on the park last week include the expansion of the park’s walking paths leading to Midway University, a gated entryway behind the library and adding displays about the city’s history.

UK professor and Midway resident John Holloway, who serves on the citizens’ advisory committee for the park and has been improving its wooded area, said he has applied for a grant for planting 500 dogwood trees to improve the general aesthetics of the park.

Vandegrift said that his personal favorite suggestion at the hearing was the addition of a train car as a backdrop for the stage in a planned pavilion. He suggested placing the car at the top of the hill and using the flat land at the bottom as a place for public performances. Visitors could bring picnic supplies and enjoy the events held there.

The suggestions at the hearing could increase the popularity of Walter Bradley Park and attract more visitors to the area Vandegrift has called “the least-used resource in town.”

Vandegrift said at the last council meeting that he expects to present his proposed budget soon.

No comments: