Jerry Little urges citizens to work with the city when it comes to infrastructure repair

Berea Gutter Construction
Workers pour new gutters and sidewalks along U.S. 25, a mostly state-funded, $8 million investment in Berea. But while new infrastructure is added, the city works to maintain older infrastructure as well.  

Who is responsible for streets, curbs, and other infrastructure in the greater Berea area? It’s not always clear, as Berea City Councilman Jerry Little pointed out Tuesday night. Little raised the issue during a report about the activities of the city’s Public Works Committee.

In recent months, one group of citizens has complained that the city is not maintaining its infrastructure, Little said.  But some of the time, the infrastructure in question is not actually the responsibility of the City of Berea, he added. He noted that some infrastructure, for example, is on private property. Or, in some cases,  property has been annexed into the city, but the city does not have easements to work on issues like drainage, said Little. That can lead to confusion among the public. “Sometimes the city gets blamed for things that are out of our control,” Little noted.

As chair of the Public Works Committee, Little said much of Berea’s infrastructure is aging, but that the city is making an effort to keep up. “We can’t take care of all the problems. We try to take care of what is most needed, because we just don’t have the manpower to take care of everything,” Little said.

Little recommended devising a new system for handing infrastructure complaints, then recording and prioritizing them. In the meantime, he urged patience. “We’re trying to do the best job we can and we’re trying to address all the problems. Just try to work with us and we’ll try to work with you to get things done.”

According to a report released last year, the City of Berea has invested over $20 million in major infrastructure projects since 1997, including upgrading the city parks and improving roadways in the industrial park.

 

                                                 CITY OF BEREA MAJOR PROJECTS
PROJECT DATE PROJECT DESCRIPTION FINAL PRICE
1993 Berea Community Park $  2,300,000.00
1993 Intergenerational Building $     350,000.00
1995 Landfill Closure $   4,000,000.00
1998 Sidewalk Project (Various) $        93,077.99
1998 Valley/Boone St. Drainage $       112,725.50
1998 Forest St. Drainage Project $         48,347.96
1999 Glades/1016 Intersection $       225,032.00
1999 City Hall Renovation $       500,000.00
2000 Post Office Renovation $       903,507.77
2001 Glades Road Reconstruction $     1,834,261.75
2002 Logston Lane Reconstruction $       119,613.38
2002 N. Broadway Reconstruction $       737,508.12
2002 Intergenerational classroom add. $       102,280.00
2003 Boone Street $       190,112.12
2003 Ball Field Refurbish $         73,723.05
2004 Shirley Street Reconstruction $         95,434.75
2004 Glades/Rash Rd. traffic signal $         49,000.00
2004 Ellipse/Jefferson Traffic Signal $         33,345.00
2005 Utility and Public Works Build. $       655,000.00
2005 Park Storage Bldg. and Office $         49,900.00
2006 Maintenance Garage $       185,810.00
2006 Blythe Court Reconstruction $         99,223.00
2007 Shortline Pike Reconstruction $       405,315.75
2007 Chestnut Street Park $    331,698.00
2007 Forest /Center Street Intersec. $         54,287.00
2007 Boone Street Improvements $       238,000.00
2008 McKinney Right Turn Lane $         23,538.65
2008 Berea Industrial Sewer Line $       286,626.96
2008 Industrial Pk. Rd. (Farristown) $       874,805.00
2008 Jane Street Connector $       184,205.90
2008 Mayde Road Reconstruction $     2,339,900.00
2009 1016 Sidewalk (Cemetery Hill) $       139,515.75
2010 Park Expansion Contract #1 $     1,049,999.75
2010 Park Expansion Contract #2 $       651,610.40
2010 Park Expansion Contract #3 $       162,926.00
2010 Prospect St. Reconstruction $     2,253,978.00
2011 Welcome Center Renovation $       535,352.00
2011 Baldwin Street Bridge $         36,509.00
2011 Folk Center Roof $       118,836.00
2012 Shortline Pike Extension $       179,223.88
2012 Menelaus Pike Design $       414,005.00
2013 Mayde Road Bike Path $       109,415.00
2013 Prospect Street Lighting $         26,203.00
2013 Folk Center Kitchen $         81,294.00
2013 Menelaus Road Utility relocate $         77,137.76
2014 Bratcher Lane Reconstruction $     1,074,733.25
2014 Pumphouse Chemical add. $         11,615.00
2014 Indian Fort Trail and Bridge $       377,631.00
2015 Water Street Drainage $       291,183.26
2017 Richmond Road Design $       687,883.00
2016 Ford Building Renovation $         33,185.00
2016 Food Bank Addition $         76,042.00
2016 Salt Bin Expansion $         17,702.00
2016 County Clerk Renovation $       101,301.00
2017 Cumberland/Hughes Street $       277,585.00
2018 Filtration refurbish $         40,000.00
2018 Splash Pad at Berea Pool $       225,000.00
2018 Berea Community Stadium $      225,000.00
TOTAL $ 26,771,145.70
1997- Present Total $ 20,121,145.70

Olinger Stays On As P&Z Chairman, Herndon Lane Plat Approved

In a unanimous vote, Betty Olinger was again elected chairman of the Berea Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday in a short business session, while Ben Robinson III was selected as vice chair, and Greg Lakes was chosen to be secretary.  

Robinson and Lakes are among four newly appointed commission members who include Jeff Johnson and returning commissioner Mike Barnett.

The first order of business for the newly seated commission was consideration of a minor plat on Herndon Lane, not far from U.S. 25. Addressing the commission on behalf of the project submitted by New Idea Construction was Jay Webb of Central Kentucky Land Surveying,

At issue was whether the property owner should be allowed to subdivide a 12-acre plot into three, four-acre lots for single family homes. Webb noted that a complicating factor was the fact that a previous owner had gained conditional approval last year to subdivide the property, which was to be included in a larger, 30-acre, eight-lot subdivision. The property has since changed hands twice.  

At the time of the eight-lot submission, the planning commission had concerns about road safety, said Planning and Codes Administrator Amanda Haney. “We did talk about how it is bad visibility and then I think more so the point of it was adding eight driveways, which means there is more starting and stopping where there are hills and visibility issues,” Haney noted.

As a result, that original plan was granted approval on the condition that the developer would widen Herndon Lane by five feet. The developer apparently decided not to widen the road, and subsequently sold the land, officials said.

 When asked for the city’s recommendation about whether to approve the new minor plat, Haney said the decision still comes down to whether the planning commission considers the scaled-down project sufficiently safe.

“I think the problem was one, the narrowness of the road, and two, the population density with the project that was going to be put in there. Do we still see it, as a commission, of the road still needing to widened?” Haney asked.

Commissioner Mike Barnett stated the completion of Phase II of the Berea Bypass will likely reduce the amount of traffic on Herndon Lane. The Bypass is expected to be completed in spring or early summer.

Robinson, meanwhile, noted that while the property is in the city limits, Herndon Lane is actually maintained by Madison County, and that the county road superintendent should sign off on any new driveways added to that road.

Haney again reminded the commission that the road width was an initial concern when the major plat was under consideration.

“Do I think we can make it as safe as possible by looking at those road entrances? We can, but I also think there was a reason that we asked for an increase in pavement width,” Haney said.

“At that point we were at eight lots, but now we’re down to three,” Webb interjected.

Commissioner Stephane Hembree stated her belief that the new proposal has less potential traffic impact than the eight-lot proposal. “With this plan, I don’t think adding three driveways is going to make a huge deal,” Hembree said.

Webb agreed. “I personally don’t think you’ll notice three homes. It shouldn’t increase the traffic dramatically,” he said.

With that final comment, Robinson moved to approve the minor plat with the stipulation that the county road superintendent grant approval to the location of any new driveways. Lakes amended that motion, adding that there would be no new subdivisions of the property without the approval of the Berea Planning and Zoning Commission.

Lakes’ motion was adopted unanimously.

The next Berea Planning and Zoning Commission meeting is slated for February 14.

City Accepts Stoney Creek Infrastructure into Maintenance Plan

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Berea City Council, Planning and Codes Administrator Amanda Haney requested the city accept street and road construction into the city’s Infrastructure Maintenance Program at Stoney Creek Subdivision.  

The new infrastructure includes 4,757 linear feet of roads, curb, gutters, sidewalks, and storm piping from Wildwood Way past Boulder Court, Sapphire Drive to Middle Creek Drive. The new infrastructure is located in Unit 2, Block 1, Phases 1 and 2 of Stoney Creek Subdivision and is valued at approximately $1.9 million. Additionally, the council voted to accept 2,100 feet of sewer line and 10 manholes in Stoney Creek into the city’s infrastructure maintenance plan. The sewer line and manholes are valued at $212,000, according to Haney. Both proposals were adopted unanimously by the council.

Councilman Jerry Little then asked when there will be designated turning lanes into Stoney Creek off of Richmond Road, citing concerns about motorist safety. Haney said plans are in the works to add turning lanes.

On another note, Haney gave an update in response to a question from Eleanor Workman, noting that developers have not yet resubmitted a zone change request for Christmas Ridge Road. Developers had requested changes to build a retirement community in that neighborhood, though local residents raised concerns about traffic and parking in the area. A resubmittal of the zone change request is expected in the future, Haney said.  

In other news, the council unanimously approved the appointments of Greg Lakes, Michael Barnett, Ben Robinson III, and Jeff Johnson to four-year terms on the Berea Planning Commission. Mayor Bruce Fraley thanked outcoming P&Z commissioners Jeff Reed and Phil Malicote for their service. Additionally, the council approved the appointment of Jeannie Hogg to the Berea Housing Authority Board. Fraley also thanked Ken Vasey for his 24 years of service on that board.

At one point, Councilman David Rowlette questioned whether the city should consider staggering the terms of board and commission members to ensure there is a consistent level of experience rather than having too many newly added members at once who are new to their respective duties.  

During the City Administrator’s Report, Rose Beverly revealed three first responders will be retiring soon. James Hampton will be retiring from the Berea Police Department, while Scott Adams and Steve Bryant will be retiring from the Berea Fire Department. The men were thanked for their service by Mayor Fraley and members of the council.  

In other developments:

  • Kentucky State Representative Joshua Bray addressed the council, noting he will represent Berea after redistricting had him shift constituent areas with Representative Deanna Frazier. The new district map is available on the Legislative Research Council website. In response to a question from Councilmember Katie Startzman, Bray said he intends to focus his efforts on ensuring his district is prepared for economic development.  In response to Eleanor Workman, Bray promised he will be responsive when he is contacted by citizens of Berea.
  • O.H. Jackson Napier addressed the council during public comments, appealing to the council to enact a fairness ordinance for the protection of LGBT citizens. Napier stated he wanted his uncle and uncle’s husband to be able to visit Berea, but suggested they might be less safe is said local legislation is not enacted.
  • IT Director Daniel Brinley stated his department is working to upgrade the security of the city’s data by staging training seminars for the respective departments. Brinley’s department is also actively working to replace the city’s phone system, which has grown obsolete.
  • Berea Municipal Utilities General Manager Kevin Howard requested approval to purchase an Eco Jet Vac truck for approximately $500,000. The vacuum/hydro excavator is used for clearing sewer lines and other areas of infrastructure maintenance. His request was approved unanimously by the council.
  • Berea Fire Chief Shawn Sandlin requested the purchase of a 2023 Tahoe for his department for $45,630. A similar truck that is currently in use for the fire department is to be re-purposed for the Public Works Department. That request was also approved unanimously.
  • Mayor Bruce Fraley thanked Sandlin and Brent Billings for creating a one-page resource sheet that can be given to victims of structure fires. The information gives victims leads on how to get food, clothing, shelter, as well as resources for utility assistance, fire clean-up, and other assistance.

The next Berea City Council meeting will be February 7.

Council Hears Plan to Build Home for Victims of Human Trafficking

Lisa Foster (right) addresses the Berea City Council Tuesday, along with Jamie Arnold (left) and Vicki Primrose (not pictured). They revealed plans to build a home in Berea to help young female victims of human trafficking. They are establishing Redeeming Hope, a non-profit that will help fund the venture.

The Berea City Council heard plans Tuesday night for a local home that will aid victims of human trafficking. 

Speaking on behalf of a soon-to-be-established non-profit Redeeming Hope, Lisa Foster, Vickie Primrose and Jamie Arnold addressed the devastating effect of human trafficking, particularly on young girls and women. Foster said the location of the home has been selected though not yet publicized, and it will serve girls between the ages of 14 and 18.

“We want Madison Countians to realize how serious human trafficking is in this area. Kentucky ranks number nine in the nation for human trafficking in 2019 for federal cases,” Foster said.

Foster added they are raising the issue now because January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. While the number of incidents of human trafficking may seem low in various Kentucky counties, those numbers typically skyrocket once citizens know what to look for, Foster said. Victims are typically groomed for trafficking, coerced, tricked, and in some cases, they are even sold by their own parents for money or drugs, Foster said.

Vicki Primrose added that while people don’t initially believe human trafficking could be a problem in central Kentucky, it’s far more prevalent than realized, and a great many of the victims are children forced into sexual servitude to survive.

“You may not know someone who has been trafficked, but I can assure you that you have walked past at least one little girl who has been part of this vile exploitation,” Primrose said. “The first step toward changing the outcome for these girls is raising awareness. It’s not something you see in a movie or a TV show, it’s real life, a real issue, and it happens every day.”

Jamie Arnold noted the goal of Redeeming Hope and the Berea home is to help teach victims of human trafficking that they don’t have to be defined by “the worst thing that has happened to them in their lives.”

Instead, Arnold said residents will live in a secure homestyle setting, they’ll be assisted in getting their GED or high school diploma, but most of all, they will receive emotional support to begin a new life, living among other girls who are also recovering. “They are going to get the love and support they need,” Arnold said.

Those wanting to help Redeeming Hope can check out the organization’s Facebook page, or they can contact Lisa Foster at 859-582-1010. When asked by Councilmember Teresa Scenters how Bereans can support Redeeming Hope, Foster said financial support and awareness are the two things most needed right now.

“We’re are trying raise money by fundraising in ways that we can. We need your support and we need you all to love these girls and to talk it up in Madison County, and we need your eyes to watch and report,” Foster said.

At the conclusion of their presentation, Councilmember Cora Jane Wilson told an unsettling story of a man who came into her antique shop in search of a girl who was clearly on the run. While Wilson suspects the girl got away, the incident suggested to her Berea will likely see more instances of possible trafficking and child exploitation.

“It’s real. It’s here, we’re on the interstate. It’s real folks,” Wilson said.

Those who suspect they have seen a victim of human trafficking can call 911, their local law enforcement agency, or call the Department of Homeland Security anonymous hotline to report human trafficking at 888-373-7888.

Tourism Votes to Extend Support for Local Concerts

In a unanimous vote, the Berea Tourism Commission voted last Wednesday to extend funding for the concert series at the Chestnut Street Pavilion. The series ran from July to September last year, however, the commission voted to reallocate $4,000 in leftover funds from 2022 to have the series begin in June of 2023.

Tourism Commissioner Rick Thomas supported the idea, adding that sponsoring additional events is in line with the city’s strategic plan, which asserts that the more that’s going on in Berea, the more tourists will come to town. “Some events may seem small, but they create an energy in the community,” Thomas said. “I think Levitt Amp and other concerts this year have proven that people are looking for things to do and places to go, and I think we can provide that.”

Director of Business Development and Tourism Donna Angel agreed, noting that as of the end of 2022, there were 411 events in town, including festivals and performances in Berea, whether they were sponsored by Levitt Amp Berea, Berea Tourism, Berea College, the Boone Tavern Inn, the Berea Arts Council, businesses like the the Spotlight Playhouse, or others.

Commissioner Becky Brown noted reinvesting the $4,000 into the upcoming Chestnut Street Pavilion concerts provides a benefit for both visitors and local citizens. “It brings people in from out of town and out of state, and it’s something that our local people can enjoy them, too,” Brown said.

Angel noted the ultimate aim is to bring visitors back with attractions like local music and events. “The more you do, the more people will come, and the more dollars will be brought into the city when they come back,” she said.

Turning toward the marketing of Berea, local tourism seems to be on rise in the wake of the city’s efforts to boost advertising, officials said.  

In recent years, tourism officials have asked city employees to establish a correlation between advertising expenditures and visitor response. Media Manager Dani Gift, who overseas the department’s social media, said there is a direct link between the city’s expenditures on adverting and inquiries on Facebook or other platforms. When an advertising campaign is launched, clicks on tourism websites surge. Gift said she experts another surge of interest with the upcoming Valentine’s Day ads launched by tourism.

Additionally, Angel noted Berea is drawing more attention of travel writers nationwide, citing a recent article stating “14 Reasons to Visit Berea.” The heightened interest of travel writers suggests tourism’s advertising and social media efforts are successfully spreading the word about Berea as a tourism destination, Angel added.

In other news, officials noted the following developments since the tourism commission last met.

  • Tourism is still working on getting an electronic sign mounted on the Chestnut Street Pavilion to advertise local events. Angel added tourism may have to seek a variance for the sign, making it slightly larger to accommodate more businesses.
  • Ethan Cima noted that Berea welcomed 50 motorcoaches to the city in 2022, just five short of the city’s high of 55 in 2019. Anticipating more visitors in 2023, tourism plans to offer more interactive activities for motorcoach visitors, including artisan classes and demonstrations. Cima said his goal is to eventually welcome 120 motorcoaches in one year. In attending an upcoming conference, Cima stated he hopes to lure motorcoach groups from Pennsylvania.  
  • Program Manager Nancy Conley said that visits to the Welcome Center dipped slightly in 2022, but that the states sending visitors to Berea remains steady. First is Kentucky, of course, which sends the most out-of-town visitors, followed by Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Texas.
  • An International Student Art Fair will be occurring in cooperation with Berea Community School June 9 and 10, showcasing artwork from students around central Kentucky. The event had previously been staged at Rupp Area, and will take place in venues around the city. The event is to encourage upcoming artists. The city has already received commitments to participate from EKU and UK, Angel said. Two hundred teachers will be in town for the event.  
  • The Business Development and Tourism Department will be participating in a January Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) conference in an effort to find ways to support small businesses and local entrepreneurs.   
  • Tourism is engaging a group from Minnesota to find out how to market Berea as a destination for biking enthusiasts. Berea is at the crossroads of two continental bike routes and has invested in both the expansion of shared use paths and the Silver Creek Bike Park.