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

Council finds common ground in new Juneteenth Resolution

The Berea City Council adopted a Juneteenth Resolution Tuesday evening, approving a measure that emphasizes Berea’s historic roots as a community on the forefront of racial integration while also affirming the council’s commitment to creating and maintaining a community that “is always a safe place for families to grow, learn and succeed, regardless of race or ethnicity.”

The compromise draft was revised by Berea City Councilmember Steve Caudill, who undertook the task with the advice of Professor Andrew Baskin. Baskin urged the council to set aside divisive language and adopt a resolution that speaks to what Berea aspires to be.

On Tuesday, Caudill read his final draft to the council.

“Resolution 12-2020

A resolution of the city council of the City of Berea, Kentucky, recognizing Juneteenth Day.

Whereas, June 19th (also known as Juneteenth) is widely recognized as the anniversary of the emancipation of the last enslaved African Americans from the Confederacy in 1865, and;

Whereas, recent national events have spotlighted the historical disparities and experiences of many African Americans that continue to negatively impact their lives and limits their ability to feel safe in their own communities, and;

Whereas, these national events have made it all the more evident that the City of Berea should remain steadfastly resolute in embracing and honoring the city’s rich history of standing against racism and encouraging inclusion for all people, and;

Whereas, Berea College was founded in 1855 with a mission of educating both white and black students together, a mission that was reality until the Kentucky Legislature passed the Day Law in 1904, and;

Whereas, the City of Berea was chartered in April, 1890 and became one of the most racially integrated cities in Kentucky until adversely impacted by de jour segregation, and;

Whereas, after the Day Law was amended in 1950 by the Kentucky Legislature, Berea College was able to return to an integrated learning community which set the example for the City of Berea to gradually return to its historical roots of standing against racism and advocating for racial and ethnic inclusion, and;

Whereas, the city council of the City of Berea, Kentucky, recognizes that Juneteenth annually reminds us that we must continually strive to be better and create an environment in our city that our founders envisioned for all people,

Now, therefore, be it resolved, that the city council of the City of Berea, Kentucky, that our community will strive to embody the practices of equity, equality and inclusion, and our city council will provide an environment that will foster understanding among people, promote justice and liberty, and ensure the City of Berea is always a safe place for families to grow, learn and succeed, regardless of race or ethnicity.

This resolution shall take effect immediately upon passage.”

Supporting final passage was Steve Caudill, Emily LaDouceur, John Payne, Cora Jane Wilson and Jerry Little. Voting in opposition was Ronnie Terrill and David Rowlette. Jim Davis did not attend the videoconference meeting.

Mayor Fraley proclaims Sept. 14-20 Constitution Week in Berea

September 14-20th was proclaimed Constitution Week 2020 in the City of Berea by Mayor Bruce Fraley. Fraley made the announcement during a Tuesday videoconference session of the Berea City Council, presenting the text to Dr. Judith Carr, who was representing the Berea-Laurel Ridges Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The proclamation read as follows:

“Proclamation in recognition of Constitution Week 2020

Whereas, September 17, 2020, marks the 233rd anniversary of the framing of the Constitution of the United States of America by constitutional convention, and;

Whereas, it is fitting and proper to accord official recognition to this magnificent document on the anniversary of its creation, and;

Whereas, public law 915 guarantees the issuing of a proclamation each year by the President of the United States of America designating September 14 through 20th as Constitution Week,

Now, therefore, I, Bruce Fraley, by virtue of the authority vested in me as mayor of the City of Berea, Kentucky, do hereby proclaim the week of September 14th through 20th as Constitution Week in Berea, and ask our citizens to reaffirm the ideals the framers of the Constitution had in 1787.”

Fraley thanked Carr for the DAR’s work in reminding citizens of the value of the Constitution, and he invited her to address the council. Said Carr: “We just can’t imagine the depth of courage and sacrifice this group [the framers] endured in signing this document and we can only imagine how they felt when they left that room.”

On Thursday at 4 p.m., the bell of the United Methodist Church will be rung 13 times in commemoration of the 13 original colonies of the United States. “Please take a moment to pause, and if you have a flag, wave it, or just say a little something in memory of this really important event,” Carr said.

Working to redefine Berea’s tourism strategy

Officials and citizens met last week to redefine Berea’s strategy for drawing tourism and business to town, according to Rick Thomas, who provided a report of the meeting at Wednesday’s session of the Berea Tourism Commission.

Thomas said one main focus of discussion for the Tourism Accelerator Committee, a subcommittee of the Berea Tourism Commission, was the Art Accelerator program, which was suspended earlier this year. Thomas said while the program was not as successful as hoped, participants agreed working artisans should still be featured in Berea’s efforts to draw tourists, but that it should perhaps be just one element of Berea’s overall tourism strategy.

 “We really want to have a full slate of things that Berea has to offer that sets us apart from our competitors. People want to move here, live here, bring their businesses here, spent their money here, visit here, so we’re open to a lot of ideas,” Thomas said.

Officials emphasized participants still believe strongly in retaining Berea’s brand as the “Folk Art and Crafts Capital of Kentucky,” but there needs to be a new approach, would could include an overhaul of the art accelerator concept.

“I was really impressed with the former art accelerator [fellows] ideas on the program,” said Commissioner Linda Ross. “They are very willing and seem to be excited about changing the program. I was just really impressed that they want to help continue this in some way, but in the best way possible. A lot of people are prepared to work for some new things for Berea.”

Commission member Charles Sanders mentioned that some of Berea’s veteran artists expressed interest in mentoring and even apprenticing younger artisans in exchange for having a retail space where their work can be displayed, thus bolstering existing art businesses while nurturing new ones.   

Thomas, meanwhile, said the participants from the commission as well as the business and artist communities agreed there needs to be more effort in building support and consensus for the city’s tourism strategy by conveying information to local citizens.  “Overall, we need to do a better job of explaining what tourism does, and specifically, how any future program tries to attract new people to Berea,” Thomas said.  

The Tourism Accelerator Committee is expected to meet again next week.

On a related note, representatives from Right Place Media (RPM) addressed commissioners on the status of the city’s tourism campaign. Bill Rice of RPM explained that the proposed campaign theme, “Experience Berea,” is designed to draw people with a variety of interests, including those interested in outdoor activities, hiking, unique dining experiences and other activities.

Meanwhile, Director of Business and Tourism Development Donna Angel provided a departmental update, reporting that Berea is scoring unusually high when it comes to outdoor activity related internet searches. Rice similarly reported that outdoor activities seem to be trending heavily when it comes to internet searches relating to Berea.

Angel also reported that there are some positive signs despite the continued impact of COVID-19. Two small leadership conferences were recently hosted by Boone Tavern, and participants wrapped up their stay by going canoeing and kayaking. Additionally, a tour coach group will be visiting Berea on September 17 on their way to Tennessee, a sign that a once very successful element of Berea’s tourism program is slowly coming back to life.   

In other developments, uncertainty over the pandemic has resulted in the cancelation of H.O.W. craft workshops and Make It, Take It, Give It, two successful fall tourism programs. Business and Tourism Development will instead focus on local Halloween and Christmas promotions, spearheaded by communication specialist Megan Campbell.

Also on Wednesday’s agenda was a proposal to allow the Berea Farmer’s Market to use the Tolle building on Saturdays during the months of November through April. The commission opted to explore the issue further to see whether the city is adequately insured for such an arrangement.

3-D Public Works project draws praise from officials

A crosswalk project in Artisan Village drew praise during a recent meeting of the Berea City Council. Officials complimented the efforts of Public Works Director Donnie Davidson and his crew, who painted a vivid, 3-D-like crosswalk at the intersection of North Broadway and Adams Street. Officials said the work is a fitting addition to Artisan Village, which showcases the work of local artists.

“It really looks good,” said Berea City Councilman Steve Caudill, expressing hope that residents will see the new crosswalk as a way to enhance safety in addition to being aesthetically pleasing. “It really makes that crosswalk stand out. That’s something that you see in large, progressive cities. You very rarely see that kind of detail and forward thinking in public works in a city our size, and I just really commend them.” Caudill noted that Davidson proposed the idea.

Berea City Administrator David Gregory said the project is especially important in the wake of a pedestrian fatality in recent weeks, adding the design gets the attention of motorists by creating an optical illusion. “It makes it look like it’s raised, so it keeps you slowing down before you get there,” Gregory said.