• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Midway Council approves deannexation, Vandegrift briefs group on 116 East Main Street agreement

The Midway City Council Monday unanimously approved deannexing 33.021 gross acres of land near Midway Station, a move Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said will benefit the city and the property owner. Vandegrift said the deannexation will allow the Homer Michael Freeny Jr. Trust to sell seven acres of the property at 1132 Georgetown Road to the owner of a planned distillery warehouse. Another result is that Freeny won’t have to pay for a pump station there and the city won’t have to maintain it, he said. 116 East Main Street At the end of the meeting, Vandegrift said an agreement has been reached with the owner of a historic building at 116 East Main Street that will remove an emergency demolition order issued in January. Vandegrift said owner Ness Almadari has agreed to erect an eight-foot wall with two-by-fours that will cover the front of the building, anchor the scaffolding to the building and weigh it down. “This is all contingent upon our engineers and county planning and zoning personnel approving the safety (of the) structures,” Vandegrift said, adding that the deal includes a pledge from Almadari to furnish $1 million of liability insurance and begin work within 45 days. If Almadari doesn’t comply, the city reserves the right to remove scaffolding and place lien on the property, he said. “Our main goal in that negotiation was to remove our liability concerns,” Vandegrift said. Tuesday morning, Almadari acknowledged the agreement, but said he was treated unfairly by government officials over the past year or so, when Vandegrift and planning and zoning officials alleged safety concerns and began to press Almadari to fix them. Almadari had appealed the emergency demolition order, and he said claims that a cable used to maintain the structure snapped last fall were bogus. Asked whether the agreement brought a sense of relief, Almadari said, “Yes, but the stress should have never been there to start with,” adding that he felt forced to agree to the conditions by governmental authorities. “Do I have any other choice than accepting his offer?” he asked. According to the Midway Messenger, the building was built in 1898 by the Pilgrim Lodge of the Odd Fellows, a Black mens’ group. Alamdari bought the property in 2016. In an interview last week, he reminded the Sun that he’d been applauded for his earlier renovation of the old clock tower building in downtown Midway. The deal was brokered, in part, by Lucy Jones, a historic preservationist and the daughter of former Gov. Brereton and Libby Jones. Event permits The council unanimously approved event permits for the city’s first block party of the year (May 29), the Midway Fall Festival (Sept. 17-19) and Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival (June 12-13), which will be held downtown this year – pandemic permitting. Debra Shockley, president of Midway Renaissance, said fewer volunteers will be needed to hold the arts festival downtown and that a maximum of 60 artists would be there. The festival will be conducted according to farmers’ market guidelines issued last year by Gov. Andy Beshear, with booths 10 feet apart and patrons six feet away from the artists, according to Elisha Holt of the Midway Merchants Association. Vandegrift said this would be a good year for Francisco’s Farm to take place downtown, in part because with nearly every public event cancelled last year, event fatigue was low. Council members and organizers agreed that all the events were dependent on progress against the coronavirus pandemic. Human Rights Commission The council unanimously approved Vandegrift’s nomination of Elder Chris Wright, the pastor of Midway Pilgrim Baptist Church, the Woodford County Human Rights Commission. Wright will take the place of Mary Raglin, who was elected to the city council last November, and will have big shoes to fill, Vandegrift said.

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