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Parking issues at Ghent’s newest city park raised some debate among commissioners during a special meeting Monday, March 18.
Mayor William Mumphrey informed the commissioners that the city is obligated to provide parking specifically for the new Clayton Arney Memorial Park, which is located off Fishing Street on a hill that overlooks the boat ramp owned by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The city’s parking lot would ensure that people taking advantage of the new park – and using a walking trail built last year on neighboring property – would not park in KDFW’s lot at the end of Fishing Street. That lot is intended solely for those using the boat ramp.
The new walking trail makes a loop on city-owned riverfront property starting at Fishing Street and extending east. Mumphrey said the city has been notified that a portion of the trail actually sits on KDFW-owned property. The portion in question is on the east end of the walking trail, toward Ferry Street.
Rather than forcing the city to correct the situation or imposing fines on the city for the error, KDFW officials requested final approval on plans for the city’s parking lot project.
Mumphrey explained to the commissioners that the trail was installed by a former commissioner, whose name Mumphrey declined to mention on record during last week’s meeting. Mumphrey said at the time the work was being done, he’d informed the commissioner where the city’s property ended and KDFW’s property began, but said this information was ignored.
“How did someone get that much power to do that?” asked Commissioner David Hendren. “I can’t believe they got away with that, that somebody couldn’t stop them.”
“He had his own agenda. He knew what was legal and what wasn’t,” Mumphrey replied. “I wanted you all to understand how it got to this point.”
Minutes and notes from city commission meetings last summer indicate former Commissioner Kenny Barr did the work on the trail for the city. Barr, who served as commissioner for two years, did not seek re-election in November.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Barr said he did not ignoreMumphrey. “The mayor did ask me to stop, but we’d already accepted bids and the work had started” on the project.
Barr said he called an engineer at KDFW and explained the situation, and said he was given verbal permission to continue with the project.
“He said that’d be fine. The only problem he had would be parking,” Barr recalled being told. He said by the time he left office, the only part of the project remaining was the parking lot.
At the meeting, Hendren said while he agrees the parking lot is needed, “I don’t like them telling us what we need to do because we did something wrong. … We obviously have to have a parking lot, but I just hate it.”
Mumphrey told the commissioners that he has been meeting with David Eberenz of Heritage Engineering in Louisville to devise plans for the new parking lot, which may include steps leading down the hill toward the river. Eberenz also is in charge of the city’s downtown sidewalk replacement project, which is set to begin this spring. That project is being funded by a state grant.
Mumphrey said Eberenz’s original plans showed a lot with 24 spaces for a total cost of about $39,000. Mumphrey said the lot project could be reduced to about 12 spaces, and though he didn’t know exactly how much that would reduce the cost, he estimated the project still would be about $30,000.
The parking lot project, he said, would “kill two birds with one stone” by alleviating drainage issues on that lot, where storm water runs down over the hill along Fishing and Davis streets and forms a muddy pool.
Commissioner Lonnie Mefford said the drainage issue is probably why there is little difference between the cost of a 24-space lot and a 12-space lot.
Eberenz is scheduled to bring the new plans for the lot to the next regular city commission meeting, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, at city hall.