Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Council hears more good news on Midway Station, holds first reading of cemetery ordinance

By Korrie Harris
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway probably won’t have to resume paying interest on Midway Station after all, due to pending property sales, the City Council heard Monday evening.
The council also heard first reading of an ordinance that will raise cemetery-lot prices to fund upkeep of the two largely abandoned African American cemeteries in the city.

Midway Station: Woodford County Economic Development Authority Chair John Soper said the EDA has approved three tentative sales of property, with one other contract waiting for approval at the EDA meeting this Friday.

EDA Chair John Soper spoke to the City Council.
“We’ve got $800,000 in contracts that we’re in various stages of doing,” Soper said, adding that the buyers could employ more than 100 people in two to three years.

Soper said the sales prospects mean that the city and county probably won’t have to resume paying interest on the Midway Station debt, as was expected in February when developer Dennis Anderson terminated his option on the property, which he maintained by paying the interest.

“We may not be able to pay it July 1,” Soper said. “You all may have to pay it, but I think of these four, that by August or September we’ll have at least two of these closed so we can reimburse you.”

Soper said from the $800,000 in sales, about $480,000 will go toward the principal of the note and the remaining balance should be around $300,000. That cash on hand will allow the EDA to maintain the property.

Recently, Midway agreed to do one or two rounds of mowing at Midway Station while the EDA bid out the work. The city will be reimbursed for fuel and labor, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said it took the mowers 23 hours to get Midway Station to “where it is now.”

Soper said, “It looks like something somebody is wanting to sell.”

Midway Station, developed in the 1990s, was largely a failure for 20 years, leaving Midway and the county with $6 million in debt borrowed to buy and develop the land.

Soper quipped, “In my former life, I was a banker and we loved to see development loans paid out in 15 to 18 months and this is going on 15 to 18 years so it’s time, it’s time.”

Vandegrift said, “You’ve done an amazing job, and I think that it’s becoming pretty clear that after all this time, 20 years, that Midway Station has turned into a success story and everything looks like it’s going in the right direction.”

Soper said the EDA is concentrating on the industrial side of Midway Station because the EDA thinks the “demand is there” and is starting to put “feelers” out on the commercial lots, zoned B-5, but plans to address that after the industrial side gets moving.

“The more we get in on the industrial side, the B-5 will become more valuable as we go on,” Soper said.

Cemeteries: Vandegrift said first reading of the proposed cemetery ordinance could wait, due to some council members having concerns about it, but he went ahead after Council Member Sara Hicks made the request to read the ordinance. 

Hicks chairs the Cemetery and City Property Committee, which proposed changes to the cemetery ordinance. For example, the cost of a single grave would increase to $750 from $650; and opening and closing a grave would cost $700, instead of $600.

Vandegrift said the idea was to get some money to help create a perpetual-care fund to help maintain the two closed African American cemeteries in Midway that “can’t generate revenue on their own,” the Sons and Daughters of Relief and Saint Rose Tabernacle graveyards; and to install markers for unmarked graves.

The extra revenue wouldn’t be dedicated directly to the replacement of markers, Vandegrift said, because the council should be able to discuss each budget cycle to “determine the needs of the budget and the needs of the cemetery” to decide how much to put in the perpetual fund “going forward.”

He added, “You can’t really compel future councils to adhere to this, I’m afraid. I mean, you can try, but I think it gives future councils more leeway to decide each budget cycle how much money goes into the perpetual fund.”

Former Council Member Johnny Wilson, who drew attention to the African American cemeteries in January by donating $1,000 for their restoration, presented two $250 checks to the council to go toward the Sons and Daughters of Relief Cemetery and Walter Bradley Park.

Wilson told Council Member John Holloway that he would like a tree named after him, “a crabapple or persimmon tree, to fit my personality.”

“Persimmons are great trees,” said Holloway, who manages the park.

In other business, the council:

   Approved Vandegrift’s nomination of Cynthia Bohn, owner of Equus Run Vineyard in Midway, to the county Tourism Commission for a three-year term.

“She’s really a kind of expert in all things tourism, so she’s a good pick,” Vandegrift said.

   Heard the mayor say that the application deadline for cooperative sidewalk repairs ended on March 31, and 10 projects signed up.

“The ones who needed to do it the most stepped up,” Vandegrift said.

He said the city will get measurements of repairs, take photos and present them to the council for approval. Once approved, there will be a request for contractors to work the project.

   Heard Jeffrey McGuffey, representing the U.S. Census, say that census takers are needed.

The job has three parts, he said: validating addresses, helping people to go paperless, and going to the homes of people who don’t respond.

McGuffey said the “temporary, part-time, flexible” work will start in July and the pay will be $14 an hour.

“The count is very important,” he said.

To apply go to www.2020census.gov/jobs or call 855-562-2020.

   Accepted bids totaling $3,582 for equipment that the council had declared surplus.
Tom Walton and Lauren Lancaster both bid $500 on a mower, and Vandegrift broke the tie with a coin flip. Walton was the winner, but Lancaster was the successful bidder on three other items, all $20 or less. The bid tallies are in the council packet, available here.

   Heard Elisha Holt, representing the Midway Business Association, announcing that “pop-up markets” would be held in Midway from 7 to 10 p.m. June 14, July 12 and Aug. 9, all Fridays for “artists, craftsmen and strolling musicians.” 

   Approved an event permit for the American Diabetes Association Bicycle Race. It will be on June 4 from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. The cyclists will start at Keeneland and finish at Keeneland, riding through Midway and stopping at Walter Bradley Park.

In the roundtable that ends each council meeting, Council Member Stacy Thurman, manager of the Midway Public Library, announced that the history of Walter Bradley Park will be discussed at the library on April 25 at 6:30 p.m.

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