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Main Street hits a funding pothole

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By Robin Bass

Main Street’s second renovation phase has been delayed temporarily by the state as officials seek to use stimulus funding instead of Kentucky transportation money, Main Street Chairman John Shircliffe told city commissioners last Tuesday.

Shircliffe said that the move will add one more layer of paperwork, but luckily, funding for the project has already been earmarked. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has allocated $360,000 in enhancement grant funding for the renovation. The remaining 20 percent will be split between the Taylorsville City Commission and Spencer County Fiscal Court, likely in the form of in-kind labor.

Shircliffe said that funding changes could push back a project he hoped would begin this summer.

Main Street’s second phase received another setback last week when the state’s transportation department denied a request for the angled-parking design that was approved by city commissioners in March.

“The angled parking will not be allowed due to issues like maintenance and drainage,” said Shircliffe.

The design would have allowed for 18 parking spaces along Main Street between Jefferson Street and Main Cross. Changing the plan to parallel parking will eliminate seven spaces.

Shircliffe said he feared the state’s changes would jeopardize the Main Street Committee’s recommendation for a town plaza in front of the Chamber of Commerce. During his presentation at the city meeting, Shircliffe reminded commissioners of the vast amount of parking located behind the Chamber.

“I don’t see any shortage of parking downtown,” said Shircliffe. “It’s a difference between parking at the doorstep or eight seconds away.”

Commissioner Kathy Spears made note that the city had never formally approved the designs for a plaza, even though the mayor and some commissioners liked the concept.

“I don’t think we could lose the parking areas,” said Commissioner Lynda Huckleberry, adding that businesses and county offices rely on the handful of spaces at the corner of Main Street and Main Cross.

In a recent opinion piece by Spencer Magnet Editor Robin Bass, it was stated that the city commissioners approved by a vote of three to two “to abolish several more parking spaces downtown at the intersection of Main and Washington streets. Those who voted for the measure said the move is part of the beautification of Taylorsville. Cars parking on north Washington Street near Main is an eye-sore, said commissioners, so the plan is to replace spaces that have been used for years with grass easements.”

Commissioners reversed this vote at their June 23 meeting by voting 4-0 to create parking on both sides of Washington Street from Main Street to Back Alley. Green space will also be incorporated between the parking spaces and sidewalks. The estimated cost is $10,000 to create the parking along with curbs and gutters on both sides.

At the June 23 meeting, commissioners also voted to order Colonial-style lights for any future street lights that will be replaced. The style is similar to the ones located in front of city hall and will be ordered through Kentucky Utilities. Nine Colonial-style lights were approved for Main Cross.

In other actions at the July 7 meeting:

• City commissioners approved placing no parking signs on both sides of the west end of Ray Jewell Drive that leads to Ray Jewell Park. Once the signs are posted, Taylorsville Police Chief Toby Lewis said violators could have their cars towed. Public safety was cited as the major concern for the decision. During sporting events, some motorists park on both sides of the narrow road leaving little room for emergency vehicles.

• Chief Lewis informed city commissioners of his plan to purchase four Toughbook laptops for a total of $800. The laptops will be mounted inside police cruisers for use in writing E-citations.

• Commissioners approved to pay the electric bill on all existing street lights in the Taylorsville subdivisions of Pin Oak, Early Wyne, Old South Plantation and Highview Estates effective immediately. The estimated cost for Taylorsville to take over the bills of 42 street lights will be about $7,000/year.

Commissioner Beverly Ingram said that city officials should create a plan for dealing with future development and adopting street light bills.

Some suggestions included having a pre-approved street lamp style that developers would be allowed to install and requiring developers to pay for any installation prior to the city accepting the electricity bill.