Council approves new streetlights for Lexington Road
Editor’s note: Due to space issues in last week’s Election Day issue of the Sun, we held the story of the Nov. 3 Versailles City Council meeting for this week. The Versailles City Council voted 5 to 0 Nov. 3 to pay $14,000 to Kentucky Utilities (KU) to install 11 new streetlights on Lexington Road at the Lexington Road entrances to Kroger and between them. Councilmember Mary Bradley was absent. Mayor Brian Traugott said Assistant Public Works Director Paul Simmons had been working with KU and state officials on the project, which could begin immediately and have the streetlights installed by the end of the year. The city will also pay $225 per month for the electricity powering the lights, according to Public Works Director Bart Miller. Lights will also be installed on the other side of the street at the Marsailles Road intersection. Traugott said the project will save lives. Big Spring Park A majority of the nearly 80-minute meeting was devoted to discussing an ambitious plan to revitalize Big Spring Park. Jon Gay, the chairman of the Versailles-Woodford County Parks Department’s Board of Directors, introduced architects Bill Esary and Matt Myers, who gave presentations featuring dozens of possible additions and renovations to the park. Gay praised the “outstanding” group of volunteers who’ve been working on a long-range plan for the park since late last year. Esary said 55 of them helped compile a laundry list of ideas for the park. He said they were broken down into a “Power of Ten” set of goals: green in downtown, ability to play, trails/fitness, water/spring, world-class woodland gardens, enhanced pavilion or pavilions, classroom/history of area, local art/Instagramming, bourbon tour and horse industry. Among the big-ticket possibilities are a splash park; a multi-purpose sports field estimated to cost a little less than $500,000 that Gay said would have to be funded with private help; “waterless” restrooms; a new parking lot to replace the present lot on Park Street and have the same number of spaces; a field amphitheater, new trails close to Big Spring Creek; enhancements of the two pavilions at the front of the park; and a walking bridge above the pipeline at the front of the park. Esary said there would need to be community buy-in for these and other proposals. The county, which splits the cost of capital parks projects, would also be asked to contribute. In response to a question from Councilmember Laura Dake, Esary said the width of the walking trails would remain the same, but mulch from the ongoing invasive species being removed would be used on them. Gay said removing the invasive species will also make the park safer. Rich Pictor, executive director of the Versailles-Woodford County Parks Department, said the evening before, he and Assistant Versailles Police Chief Rob Young had found another homeless encampment in the park. It was near where his staff had torn down and cleaned up one two months before, he said. Gay said he’d recently taken a walk in the park at 7 a.m. and saw homeless people coming out of the woods. When the invasive species are gone, sightlines and safety in the middle of the park will improve, he said. KCTCS lot repaving The council voted 5 to 0 to approve the recommendation of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System for KCTCS to pay Lagco, Inc. $581,787 to repave its parking lot. City Attorney Bill Moore said Lagco’s bid was the lowest. In November 2018, the council unanimously passed an ordinance authorizing the sale of up to $6.12 million in revenue bonds for extensive renovations there. KCTCS is one of the city’s largest employers. Other bids The council voted 5 to 0 to pay low bidder Finley Fire Equipment up to $10,000 per year for the next three years and $5,000 the fourth year to replace the department’s large diameter fire hoses. The council also voted 5 to 0 to allow the Public Works Department to get bids for a new roof for the administration building of the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. COVID relief update The council voted 5 to 0 to approve a municipal order setting a new repayment plan for water and sewer customers who’ve fallen behind on their bills. Councilmember Gary Jones, the chair of the council’s Water and Sewer Committee, said utility customers owing less than $200 would have up to six months to pay and customers owing more would have 12 months. The customers would not be charged interest, Jones said. City Clerk Elizabeth Reynolds said the city had received all it requested in federal CARES Act funding for COVID-19 relief efforts – $669,880. Traugott asked councilmembers to consult with local restaurants to see what needs they had for the upcoming cold months, when the pandemic is expected to spike and in-person restaurant eating may continue at less than full capacity. Councilmember Ken Kerkhoff said the city should do whatever it can to help, and Councilmembers Mike Coleman and Fred Siegelman said they agreed. Traugott said the city had set aside $10,000 in the fiscal year ’21 for such efforts. Traugott said in the previous two weeks, Bluegrass Community Action, which administers the city’s COVID-19 relief effort for private citizens (the city did so for businesses), had paid a total of $5,111.77 in CARES Act funds to 25 people.