Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Council OKs street closing for growing Midsummer Nights in Midway, hears mayor's plans to slow speeders

Renaissance diagram submitted to the council shows closure of East Main westbound,
outlets for eastbound traffic, and parking. (Click on image to download larger version)
By Sarah Ladd
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The Midway City Council agreed Monday to close the westbound lane of East Main Street for Midway Renaissance’s Midsummer Nights in Midway on June 29, July 27 and Aug. 24.

Midsummer Nights is entering its third season and is growing in popularity. Debra Shockley of Renaissance told the council that the event expects 20 booths this year and already has 1,200 persons expressing interest in it on the event’s Facebook page.

To accommodate the event, which has outgrown the parking lot of United Bank and Darlin’ Jean’s Apple Cobbler Cafe, Renaissance proposed closing the street to make room for food and other vendors, and making up the loss of parking by using lots around the Brown Barrel restaurant. The bands will set up near the end of East Main and face west.

There was discussion of other parking and street-closure alternatives, but council members said the Renaissance proposal was worth a try, and agreed to it. Shockley said the streets will be blocked off around 5:30, giving the merchants on those streets time to close their shops.

Event funding: The council also agreed unanimously to Shockley’s request for funding of Midsummer Nights, but not before Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher reminded the other members of their February decision to deny money to the Midway Business Association.

The February request was for up to $1,200 to help pay for merchants’ placards on the logo signs at the I-64 interchange that say, “Antique Shops” and “Railroad Street Shops”, a request that was denied because the antique shops would not sponsor the signs, the city’s donations budget was running low at the time and some council members thought the MBA had enough funds to pay for the signs. 

Gallagher, who is a Main Street merchant, said she did not have a problem with giving Midsummer Nights funding, but wanted to understand the difference between the two situations. 

Council Member Steve Simoff said Midsummer Nights “should help the merchants.” and  Council Member Sara Hicks noted that Renaissance “is a non-profit organization that’s providing service to the city at no charge. The merchants are a group who are joined together to earn money and make a living.”

Council Member Bruce Southworth pointed out that the city has invested in the merchants by helping pay for utilities for vendors during the MBA’s Midway Fall Festival, the town’s largest annual event.

Mayor Grayson Vandergrift said Gallagher’s question was fair, but “I feel like we give a lot to the merchants association,” such as the portable toilets and other support the city gives the Fall Festival.

The council voted unanimously to sponsor Midsummer Nights with a $500 donation, to be applied to all three events. Council Member John McDaniel was absent, following surgery for an arm injury.

Slowing speeders: In the meeting’s other major discussion, Vandergrift laid out a plan for controlling traffic speeds in Midway, a problem he said has been addressed with “various degrees of success.” He presented his plan with a request that the council think about it, add suggestions, and vote at the next council meeting on July 2.

The mayor said part of the problem with speeding through the city limits are the country roads leading into town, which he said “feel kinda lawless,” so he wants to change “perception of drivers as they come into town” to get them to slow down.

State rendering of plan for new lines on South Winter Street
Vandegrift suggested painting lines on some streets to make them feel tighter, starting with East Stephens Street. He said the appearance of narrower streets will help drivers realize they are entering residential areas and need to slow down. He said the state soon plans to paint new lines on South Winter Street, US 62, as announced in February.

The second phase of Vandegrift’s plan would install corner bulb-outs, or sidewalk extensions, which would shorten pedestrian crossings and narrow the streets. Bulb-outs narrow roads at an angle, and Vandergrift said they could even be landscaped to “beautify the city.”

The mayor asked the council, “If phase one and phase two are not as effective as you’d like them to be, what do we have in phase three?” He said the immediate focus should be on painting East Stephens Street, where the city has often placed its mobile radar unit that displays speed. “If [painting the lines] doesn’t work,” he said, “we’re not really out anything but a little bit of paint.”

Animal ordinance: In other business, the council held first reading of a revised ordinance on treatment of animals, initially passed by the Woodford County Fiscal Court. Vandegrift said city attorney Phil Moloney had revised the legislation to conform to other city ordinances. The ordinance and the Renaissance proposal can be found in the council packet, online here.

Blighted property: The mayor announced that Ness Almadari of Lexington, who has owned the dilapidated building at 116 E. Main St. for more than two years, had told him that “He’s ready to start work” and thinks scaffolding will be up in about a month. “It’s good to see some movement on that,” said Vandegrift, who is trying to get the council to crack down on property owners who don’t maintain their property.

The next City Council meeting is scheduled for July 2 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. All council meetings are open to the public.

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