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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ambulance, facilities for visitors, homes for new plant workers among goals voiced by city council members

An ambulance for the Midway area, a visitors' center with restrooms and plans for more housing were some of the long-range goals voiced by members of the Midway City Council and Mayor Grayson Vandegrift at a special planning meeting Thursday night.

Shorter-term goals include a lower speed limit on Winter Street, changes at the Midway Cemetery and continued work on the city's streets, sidewalks, water lines and sewer lines.

"Please feel free to be outlandish as well as practical," Council Member Sara Hicks asked her colleagues as she presided and Vandegrift made notes on big easeled sheets, divided by goals for the next six months, two years and five years, in that order.

Near-term: next six months

Several near-term goals voiced by more than one member dealt with the cemetery: revising and updating its rules, and placing benches. Council Member Libby Warfield said the new rules should include a retroactive timeline for compliance. She also called for demolition of the old cottage, more landscaping around the veterans' monument and creation of a section for infant burials.

Warfield, who brought a long narrative to the meeting, also said the city should modernize or repeal outdated ordinances, educate citizens about ordinances on nuisances and blighted property, better enforce ordinances, "perhaps with a city manager," replace the ballpark storage building and keep cars off the North Winter Street sidewalk "so baby carriages can go down the street."

New Council Member Steve Simoff said the city needs a welcome sign for motorists entering town from Interstate 64, and a list of business owners' phone numbers for police. He also called for a committee to consider development of a "distillery district" between Main Street and Lee Branch.

Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher said the city needs to work with the Midway Business Association to develop events each month to bring people to town, and develop a way to notify everyone in town of events and other things that need to be publicized.

New Council Member John McDaniel also called for more events, and endorsed the infrastructure goals voiced by other members.

Council Member Bruce Southworth said the city needs to identify where water and sewer repairs need to be made and work with county officials to get an ambulance. (See long-term goals, below.)

Vandegrift said the first round of city-subsidized sidewalk repairs should be done this spring. He also said the city needs new cemetery rules, updated blighted property procedures and better code enforcement: "Our rules have been piecemealed together over the years."

Mid-term: six months to two years

Vandegrift said the city needs to develop a master plan for Midway Station with the EDA and Anderson, continue paving projects, and work with the state Transportation Cabinet to get a lower speed limit on Winter Street.

Warfield said that if no housing is built in Midway Station, the current intention of developer Dennis Anderson, the city needs to identify other places housing.

Woodford County Economic Development Authority Chair John Soper said he had an inquiry from a Leitchfield firm, Wabuck Development Co., that is interested in building moderate-cost apartments that would need three to five acres within walking distance of retail stores.

"They're interested in our community because of all these jobs coming in," Soper said. "When people see the walls going up on Lakeshore [Learning materials' distribution center], it's going to open up a lot of eyes." The company hopes to open the plant by November, and the American Howa Kentucky auto-parts plant is complete and "partially open," Vandegrift said.

Simoff said the city needs to establish parameters for future development, including housing; ensure greenspace buffers for Midway Station and other developments; and "try to get away from vinyl siding." He also called for a beautification plan.

Gallagher also voiced the need for more housing, especially for those who will be working at Midway Station.

Hicks said the city needs a plan to make it fully handicapped-accessible, a sidewalk to Northside Elementary School and a mixed-use path to The Homeplace at Midway. She said it could slow traffic on Winter Street by painting parking spaces. The state controls the street's speed limit.

Warfield said the city should consider a pavilion at the cemetery for memorials and other ceremonies which would be especially useful in bad weather. She estimated the cost at $28,000. She also said the city should "re-establish gifting opportunities" as outlined in the ordinance for the cemetery's endowment. She added later, "We're gonna have to address the fact that our parking is getting so limited downtown."

McDaniel endorsed the cemetery-pavilion idea and said the city needs a Main Street manager to do outreach, contact motel and hotel developers, recruit businesses for empty buildings and take charge of downtown activities, "just like we had before." The city stopped funding the position when Tom Bozarth was mayor.

McDaniel also said the city should benefit financially when it issues tax-exempt bonds for other jurisdictions that have reached their annual limit on such bonds.

Long-term: two to five years

McDaniel called for "an ambulance service for our side of the county." County officials have been resistant to the idea because of cost, but Vandegrift noted after the meeting that they are planning to build a new fire station just northwest of town, and said an ambulance could be based there to meet the need that will grow greater due to Midway Station.

Southworth said earlier, "We're gonna have 400 people working out here and the closest ambulance is in Versailles."

Vandegrift said the city should have a goal in the next five years of creating "200-plus" more jobs at Midway Station, and 150 to 200 new homes, including affordable housing. "Let's not have jobs outpace homes too badly," he said.

The mayor also called for paying off the bonds on water and sewer facilities and using half the savings for repairs and half to lower customers' rates.

Hicks said the city should develop a downtown "performance area" with a stage and bathrooms. She also called for solar panels on City Hall, an "edible forest" in the park; an elevator in City Hall; a swimming pool and recreation center; a small organic grocery; a Dollar Store; a bike and walking trail around the city; and a volunteer transport service to Lexington and other cities like one offered in Versailles.

Warfield said the city needs to rebuild the rear entrance and porch on the second story of City Hall "before it falls down," and have a visitor center with restrooms that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and a city manager to manage employees and enforce ordinances. She also said all blighted areas should be in compliance with the building code within five years.

Simoff also called for a visitor center with bathrooms, and said Midway Station should be mowed and cleaned regularly until its development is complete.

Gallagher, asked for her five-year goals, replied, "Let's get the two-year first."

Asked for his, Southworth smiled and said, "Get re-elected."

With that and laughter all around, the council adjourned until its next regular meeting, at 5:30 p;m. Monday, Feb. 6 at City Hall.

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