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LETTER: Spencer County, Taylorsville and development

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Having watched and been involved in the course the county, Taylorsville and the EDA have taken since we moved here in 2005 and read about it from 2001, when I started reading The Spencer Magnet, I think I have a good grasp of things.
I did a lot of research going back to the early 1970s of what happened in the county as to development and the resources we have and don’t have, and the willingness to develop the county. The feeling I got from all that is that the movers and shakers in the county and city did not and still don’t want business to come into the county, they like it like it was.
The subdivisions came because the developers and farmers wanted money, not because the county or Taylorsville were interested in development. The county roads for the most part are one lane or 1 1/2 lane paved roads and not suitable for heavy traffic for the subdivisions, which many of them now have. The county did not plan for future development when they paved the roads because they didn’t think ahead and/or didn’t want development. The opportunity to get them paved occurred from state money, and they took advantage of it without the thought of the future. Spencer County intended to remain a rural farming and dairy county, and few wanted anything different. That is, until developers started talking to the farmers.
I talked to the past county judge-executives that I could and the current judge-executive and Mayor Don Pay a lot. Others and myself have suggested things to both of them to improve the city and county. My feeling is while Pay and Karrer want to see the city and county bring in business and tourism, their hands are tied, both financially and in getting support.
Few in the county government and city government wanted change in the past and probably few will want it in the future as well. All the county and city wanted was to be a bedroom community of Jefferson County.
Behind everything, I believe, is the fact that Taylorsville considers itself the power in the county and everything should come from and to them.
The county government has always been a stepchild of Taylorsville in their minds, and indeed it was, until now. Since the county has had a great many subdivisions developed in it, the tax base has grown. Now the county government is spreading its wings and the Taylorsville movers and shakers are upset. They see the county as a threat to their long standing monopoly of power. Both are fighting for control of the power rather than working together to improve Spencer County. Oh, you won’t have them admit it, but it’s obvious and it’s there.
In many minds, the EDA was a waste of time and money. What it brought to the city or county compared to the cost of the EDA was not a good return. In fact, the EDA bylaws were set up to bring business to the city.
Again, the county was just a stepchild to the city. The EDA was allegedly disbanded but its private corporation is still active. That corporation is listed as not for profit and owns the EDA building. The building can’t be rented for profit or it will violate IRS rules so they can’t use it as a revenue base.
The EDA could actually work as a separate entity of Taylorsville and Spencer County by simply changing its name on the corporation papers, but the issue is funding and it would have to seek donations to operate.
Lately there was talk of Swift [Meat Packing Company] coming to Spencer County and the city voted against it. Karrer and Pay met with Jerry Abramson about the possibility, and it was supposed to be privileged information. Pay told his commissioners about it and apparently one of them let the cat out of the bag. I guess Pay got what Karrer got when Karrer [asked EDA board members to resign] and someone revealed the request.
In the past, a businessman was going to build bowling lanes, a steak house restaurant and a youth amusement park here and it hinged on selling mixed drinks, beer and wine. The establishment could get beer and wine, but the city has to be fourth-class for liquor by the drink and the land would have to be annexed. Chalk up another loss for the city and county. There are several other failures to accommodate businesses that wanted to come to Spencer County and they were turned away for lack of support or cooperation.
The county had a chance to take control of the Edgewater Development. They allowed it to be retained by the current leasing group but the resort that was supposed to be built has not been and Edgewater was turned into a gated community a few years ago. It was supposed to be a time-share development but the leasing group allegedly allows residents to live there year-round which is not legal according to what I have been told. I doubt we will ever see a resort at Edgewater, and it will continue to be a gated community not available to the public and it will be occupied by year-round residents. That is not what was intended when the county got the lease of the land years ago. It was supposed to be for the citizens of Spencer County as an open park and a resort and open time-share homes.
From past research, I know that Spencer County has nothing to offer Swift so I called Hal Goode in Washington County and told him to look into it for their county since neither Taylorsville nor Spencer County want it or have the resources to support it. It’s only fitting that it should stay in Kentucky if possible and I am sure Abramson just wanted to get it out of Jefferson County because the Butchertown area has been a thorn in Jefferson County to move Swift out of their area for many years now. Swift had to be a good tax cow for Jefferson County and Abramson wanted it there while he was mayor. Since he is not mayor, I think he is willing to move it out of Jefferson County now and the sooner the better, but I’m sure he wants to keep it in Kentucky somewhere.
Now, have you walked down Main Street lately, well it is nearly deserted. Several of the buildings are condemned and the owners refuse to repair them. Several shops that occupied the stores have closed and not relocated here. All the work done by the Main Street Committee has gone to naught other than to beautify Main Street, and, personally I am glad that was done. We do have an attractive Main Street if you discount the run down empty buildings.
Taylorsville is dying and few seem to care and some seem to be proud of the path it is taking. Yes, it looks like those that don’t want the city to become a hub of tourist activity or any activity have won.
Several attempts have been made to make the city a fourth-class city and the naysayers won each time. Slowly, Taylorsville is dying because of regressive commissioners and lack of interest by the citizens. I hope they are happy that they have destroyed Taylorsville.
If you’re a citizen of Taylorsville, ask yourself if you like what the commissioners are doing for or to your town. Go to the commission meetings and see what goes on. You may want to replace a few of them, and it won’t take long to pick them out if you attend several of the meetings.
Perhaps now it’s the county’s turn to blossom and grow. Perhaps it may even be time to change to a charter county government. Perhaps it will put a spark of life into the county and all the cities in the county by bringing in a central government that looks out for all the citizens and towns of the county and not just a few that constantly battle each other for the power base.
Open your mind city and county citizens and decide what you want the city and county to be. If you’re satisfied with things the way they are, then stay home, watch TV and go to bed and work. That’s probably all you will get out of the Jefferson County bedroom community residents throughout the county. If you’re dissatisfied in the way things are going, then get involved in creating an active and growing city and county or help get a charter county government going. Go to the City Council meetings and the Fiscal Court meetings. Join or volunteer for the Main Street Committee, the Chamber of Commerce or the Tourism Committee. I’m sure they can use help at activities and promotions. Talk to the leaders and discuss your ideas and help them implement any improvements. If you find fault with something, suggest a remedy. You have a choice, you can be part of the problem or part of the solution for improvement.
I doubt there will be a flood of help, for few care. They think they don’t have time to help improve the cities and county because they think there’s nothing in it for them. After all, they say, isn’t that what the city commissioners and magistrates are supposed to do? If you ask yourself what will I get out of helping, then you’re probably part of the problem. It should be, what will the community get out of me helping?
Carl Darnell
Taylorsville