Streetscape project wins $186,622 grant

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By Dave Taylor

The four-block area surrounding the courthouse in downtown Carrollton will soon have new sidewalks, landscaping and lighting with funding from a $186,622 grant awarded last week.

The project will also bring new informational signs about the community’s history to the courthouse square area, which is surronded by Highland Avenue, Main, Court and Fifth streets.

Gov. Steve Beshear announced the $186,622 Transportation Enhancement grant for the streetscape project Thursday.

“My administration is committed to supporting local communities by investing in projects that improve quality of life for Kentuckians, Beshear said. “I’m happy that we can help move forward an important revitalization project that will enhance the appeal of historic Carrollton.”

Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson called the grant award “a significant amount of money … That is very good news.”

“We have applied for it several times and never been successful,” Tomlinson said. He said in past years Carroll County had applied for the grant with a larger scope of work envisioned.

“There were a number of interior improvements in the courthouse that we had applied for and I think the interior work we added to the proposal reduced our chances of getting the money,” he said.

Carroll County Community Development Corp. executive director Joan Moore said the money is for the last part of the downtown streetscape project. “I understand that my two predecessors had been trying to get this money either for the city or the county since 2004.”

“We’re very pleased the project has finally been funded,” Tomlinson added. “It gives us a chance to enhance the courthouse square with new sidewalks, a certain amount of landscaping and lighting improvements.”

“I’m glad to see that they’re finishing up the downtown area,” said Sam Burgess, Director of the Carrollton Main Street Project. “The money will help immensely.”

“This comes from stimulus money,” Tomlinson said, “of which Kentucky received about $51 million.” The federal grant, awarded to the Carroll County Fiscal Court, will be matched with $46,656 in local funding from the county’s general fund.

“They gave us everything we asked for, provided the county came up with 20 percent in matching funds,” said Moore. “How long it will take until the money is released I don’t know. We’re still waiting for the Carroll County Park to Park Trails money” even though that grant was announced in May.

Burgess said he expects the project may get underway in about 60 days. The county, he said, “have to get a memorandum of agreement signed and mailed back to the state transportation people. As soon as they can get the paperwork done on it they can go ahead with it. I’m really glad they’re doing it,” he reiterated.

According to Tomlinson, the county has had to address several problems with lighting and electrical issues for a number of years. The grant provides for new buried cable and electric boxes, he said.

The uneven sidewalks around the courthouse square have also been a source of a number of complaints from his constituents, Tomlinson said, “about ladies catching their heels or people stubbing toes.” When the parking meters were removed a number of years ago, the holes where they had stood were patched, he said. Periodic repair work to underground electric lines brought more patching.

“This gives us a chance to have all the sidewalks the same,” Tomlinson stated. “The present sidewalks will be torn out and replaced.”

“One extra thing that we asked for that we thought would be nice,” Moore said, “would be to add some historical signage with information about Carrollton in the 1800s. We want to get the Main Street people and historical society people together to put together ideas for the signs.”

    Carrollton was an important burley tobacco market and river port during the 1800s. The downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places.