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This year looks like it may be the one. The year when residents will finally see progress being made on one of the most sought-after and highly-anticipated projects: the river walk.
In an interview Dec. 19, Carrollton Mayor Gene McMurry said completing the river walk along the Ohio River, as well as installing the splash park at Point Park, is his top priority in 2013.
“I want the river walk and I want the splash park, I’d like to get those done next year,” he said. “… It’s stirred up a lot more imagination and interest than I anticipated, but people have been talking about it forever and finally they’re seeing things happening. It’s actually going to happen, and they believe it now. It’s actually going to happen.”
A number of people and businesses have expressed interest in donating money to the project or helping to fundraise. So far, River Valley Financial has made a $2,000 donation, while KFC held a fundraising event and the Rotary Club showed interest in the project, he said.
McMurry said two or three people also came to him with the idea of selling bricks for the walk.
The city has opened a separate account at River Valley Financial to accept contributions to the river walk.
The city also received a $100,000 dollar-for-dollar matching Recreational Trails grant for the project at the beginning of 2012. The city has three years to complete the project.
The mayor said he has two more pieces of property to buy—one at Fourth and Water streets and the other behind Carrollton Federal on Fifth Street—and then the city will own everything it needs. In the spring, Jimmy Supplee will begin clearing the bank and getting the area seeded, McMurry said.
He also wants to get a redesign of the walkway because he wants it near the light poles. His idea is to encourage business owners to open small, limited shops to entice walkers.
Fourth of July
celebration to grow
In its second year, Carrollton’s Fourth of July celebration will be shortened from two days to one day, but will be more jam-packed with activities.
Country music singer T.G. Sheppard and his wife, singer Kelly Lang, will perform a concert prior to the fireworks, McMurry said. Then, there will a presentation of the colors, the national anthem and then the fireworks. The mayor said he would like to increase the amount spent on fireworks this year from $12,500 to $15,000, but it will need to be approved by city council. Last year, the city spent a total of $20,000 on the festival.
The event will be co-sponsored by Herb Kinman Chevrolet, who will be providing the stage and likely an opening musical act.
“(The event) was a big success last year. I’d say there were 5,000 people in attendance all over,” McMurry said. “If we do the country music and the fireworks combination, I look for close to 10,000 people. Don’t know where I’m going to put them all, we’re working on where we’re going to park them over in that field next to the campground. We can park them there, (and) we’ve got to work out transportation for elderly.”
The festival also will include vendors and inflatables.
McMurry said he looks for 2013 to be a much busier year for Two Rivers Campground. It will be advertised nationally beginning this month in three publications: Good Sam RV Travel Guide, Trailer Life Directory and MotorHome magazine.
The guides will include a picture and description of the campground and will be a very “valuable asset.”
McMurry said council has discussed adding amenities to the area, such as larger trees along the river, near the shelter house and near the entrance. He said there also would be a historical addition in the campground area in the near future, but he was not at liberty to divulge the details at this time.
He believes the campground will get busier and bigger as more events like Fourth of July and Bands and BBQ draw more people to Point Park.
Continued work on
The mayor said drawing people downtown remains a focus.
“I feel like we’ve come a long way in the last two years as far as doing things that will promote tourist trade in the downtown area,” he said.
He said the campground and river walk will draw people in, while the splash park will bring local people downtown.
New businesses have recently opened downtown and more businesses are using the Enterprise Incentive Program grants, the mayor said, including one start-up grant.
“The grocery store I still haven’t given up on, but it’s very difficult right now to get anybody to talk to you about a grocery in a small community, especially downtown where you’re limited on parking,” he said.
He said he talked to Kroger and Walmart and there is some interest in providing a grocery delivery service for homebound residents. However, he has not had a chance to pursue the idea further. He said that is not the ultimate goal, but it will field a needed void in the community.
McMurry said he looked at the city-owned building on Court Street recently and said it is a “good, sound building.” Unfortunately, nothing can be done until the lawsuit is settled. He said he will talk to the attorneys soon to get a progress report. McMurry said the building “has potential for a nice retail outlet of some sort or maybe a entrepreneurial workshop-type area” downstairs and possibly offices upstairs.
McMurry said he does not want the city to get involved in being a landlord. Rather, he wants to lease the building to a business owner or private investor and let them renovate the building and rent out the space.
“One way or another it’s going to be an asset to the community,” he said, “but it’s structurally too good to take down.”
of after school program
McMurry said incoming-councilwoman Hayley Franklin has expressed interest in extending the existing after school program for area students.
The 21st Century Lighthouse is an after school program for students in fourth through eighth grades. It is held in the basement of Carroll County Middle School and operates Monday through Thursday until 5:30 p.m.
Franklin told McMurry students living in the county who want to stay longer for a sporting event have no where to go after Lighthouse closes. The mayor said the city will work with Carroll County Schools, Carroll County Extension Service, Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County and other agencies to determine if the program can be extended. He said he does not know if it will be expanded to include high school students.
McMurry said he is interested to see what the new council has on their agenda. He said once everyone gets oriented and learns how the city operates, they will hit the ground running.
The first city council meeting of the year is 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, at city hall.