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Bedford seeks recreational trails grant

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Vision includes playground, skate park and walking trail at Bedford springs

By Phyllis McLaughlin

The Trimble Banner

The city of Bedford plans to apply for a federal grant that could help build a new city park at Bedford springs.

A public hearing on the application is planned for 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, at City Hall in the Morgan Community Center. The deadline to apply is at the end of February.

Assistant city clerk Rita Davis said Monday she’s working with Mayor Russell Clifton to complete the application, seeking as much as $50,000 from the federal Recreational Trails Grant to build a mile-long multipurpose trail at the springs. The trail would accommodate activities including walking, jogging, skate boarding and rollerblading. Down the road, Davis said she and Clifton hope to add a playground, shelter house and skateboard park within the trail.

The trails grant is funded by the U.S. Division of Forestry and administered by the Kentucky Department of Local Governments, said Rob Trowbridge, a public administration specialist with the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency in Louisville.

Trowbridge, who is assisting with the application process, described it as a “one to one” grant, meaning that the city would have to match whatever amount it might receive. If the city were awarded the full $50,000, the city commission then would be required to contribute an additional $50,000 toward the project. The city’s portion can include city funds and monetary donations from business, industry and the public, as well as “in-kind” donations.

In-kind donations include man-hours volunteered by individuals or local organizations to help with the project. A formula is used to determine the value of those hours in dollars, and that amount is added toward the city’s share, Trowbridge explained.

While the grant is very competitive, Trowbridge said he thinks the city has a good chance to get funding for the project because there is no park within Bedford’s limits. He said the application also has the support of state Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, and county Judge-Executive Randy Stevens and other local government representatives.

Though the city does have a community center for indoor recreation, Bedford “desperately is in need of outdoor recreational activities,” Trowbridge said. “There is very little for families and youth to do outside in Bedford.”

In a recent city commission meeting, Clifton mentioned that he would like to see a skateboard park built at the springs for young people.

Davis said the city missed the 2009 deadline for a grant that would help pay for a skateboard park, and plans to apply for that grant this year.

Residents who support the grant may stop at City Hall during business hours and sign a petition, which also will be included with the application.

Davis said the land around the springs and the springhouse has been surveyed, but she couldn’t say for sure the size of the lot that would comprise the park. She said engineers will be brought in to look at the site and determine what preparations would be needed before a trail could be built there.

“There’s a big hole with water there,” which would be filled in and leveled, Davis said.

Davis said she hopes the city receives enough grant money to at least get the project started, acknowledging that it could take several years to complete the park as envisioned. “But, maybe we can get a little done at a time,” she said.

She also has been getting input on the skatepark design from young people who come to the community center for indoor recreation programs – particularly those who now have only city streets and sidewalks on which to ride skateboards. “We want the kids to be in on this, too.”

A Bedford landmark

The springs, a landmark in Bedford, is located on a city-owned site on U.S. 421, about a half-mile from the U.S. 42 intersection. According to a 1974 special section marking Trimble County’s bicentennial, the minerals in the springs’ water were determined in the early 1800s to have health benefits. The springs became the focal point of the Bedford Springs Hotel resort, a favorite destination for vacationers from all over the area throughout the late 19th century and early 20th century.

In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration built the springhouse, which still stands there today.