Vandegrift: ‘The future looks good’
MIDWAY – Mayor Grayson Vandegrift delivered his first state of the city address at Monday night’s city council meeting, saying, “The future looks good.” He began by noting state law requires mayors to report to the council and public on the “condition and needs of city government, and to make recommendations for actions by this body.” Vandegrift said the recent audit by a Lexington accounting firm showed the city in good financial shape with a significant rainy day fund. He noted the city’s debt includes obligations to pay for a new fire truck, the replacement of a water line on Higgins Street, and the old sewer plant (to be paid off in 2018) and new plant (to be paid off in 2022). Vandegrift noted the creation of new jobs in 2015 on the old Weems property and the new Homeplace at Midway, and American Howa Kentucky’s (AHK) plans for a manufacturing plant on property adjacent to Midway Station. “AHK’s arrival is very important for two reasons: the first being that they intend to be operating sometime in the fall of 2016 with 54 full time, well-paying jobs,” Vandegrift said. “Secondly, 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. 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.” Vandegrift said the city’s challenges include ensuring that “new development is sustainable and at a steady pace so that it never infringes upon what makes Midway special.” He noted that the city’s water and sewer infrastructure needs updating, sidewalks need to be repaired, and roads need resurfacing. Vandegrift called the Higgins Street water line replacement a success, but said the cost and difficulty of the project made clear that a total overhaul of Midway’s oldest water and sewer lines will likely take 10 to 20 years. “With projects that large and drawn out, it is easy for governments to kick the can down the road. We have to resist the urge of putting these projects off. 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. …” Vandegrift said he believed the council’s focus in 2016 should be on roads and sidewalks, including more money for paving Northside Drive. A comprehensive sidewalk plan was also needed, he said, noting that a council committee had already begun work on the matter. “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,” Vandegrift said. He encouraged council members to bring up new issues as needs arise, and closed by saying, “The future looks good.” Subdivision waiver Versailles City Attorney Bill Moore, acting on behalf of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, asked the council to waive subdivision regulations for 15 acres of land where AHK will build its plant. The land is part of the 37 acres owned by the Roach family, and adjacent to Midway Station. Moore said the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission must approve a new plat for the 15 acres, which doesn’t have a sewer line. “In order to be able to sell this tract to them (AHK), we first have to have an approved final plat. … And you have to have all the public infrastructure in place. We’re asking that you permit us to have a waiver of that requirement and let us bond whatever needs to be constructed. That amount will be determined by the planning commission … later this month. …” Moore said. “They’re ready to break ground and they want to get moving and we want to do everything we can to get them moving as quickly as possible.” The waiver was unanimously approved. Rezoning The council heard the first reading of an ordinance to rezone property at 327 Smith Street and scheduled the second reading for today at 5:30 p.m. The land is presently zoned I-1 (light industrial), despite the fact that a house is on it. Other houses in the area are zoned R-3 (medium density), and after the meeting, Vandegrift said he wasn’t sure why 327 Smith Street wasn’t, too. The move follows a recommendation by the planning commission. The property is owned by 3000 Versailles Road, LLC. Vandegrift said a prospective buyer of the property told him the rezoning was needed quickly in order to lock in a low interest rate.