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

Mayor Fraley: Cooperation pays off with $455K grant

Intergovernmental cooperation between the cities of Berea, Richmond, and Madison County likely played a key factor in landing a $455K federal grant to possibly retain the workforce at the Blue Grass Army Depot.

In a joint statement issued Friday, the legislative offices of U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, along with Congressman Andy Barr, announced the $455,828 allocation to the Bluegrass Area Development District from the Department of Defense Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC), an agency that assists communities create economic development plans in anticipation of the completion of a major government defense-related operation.

At a September 7 meeting of the Berea City Council, Craig Williams, co-chair of the Economic Impact Working Group of the Citizens Advisory Board, said that complete destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile at the Blue Grass Army Depot is on track and expected to be finished in the fall of 2023.

With the completion of the project, Williams said, the approximately 1,500 employees responsible for destruction of the stockpile will have completed their work. That creates an opportunity for Madison County employers, Williams said.

“We have 1,500 workers, most of whom are highly trained, highly skilled, and highly security cleared, and they have an almost definitive end point to their employment. That’s a very unique circumstance for any community to have – drug tested, high security, chemists, engineers, professionals of all sorts,” Williams said.

With the grant, which will be administered through Blue Grass ADD, the three governments in Madison County, along with the Blue Grass Army Depot, can forge economic development strategies to retain that workforce, then either integrate them into Madison County industries or possibly attract new ones.

Additionally, Williams added that there will be a remediation period in which facilities directly used for chemical weapons neutralization will be destroyed, but that other facets of the infrastructure will still be usable. Precisely how that infrastructure will be used, either by private businesses or the government, has yet to be determined, Williams told the council.

In the meantime, Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley thanked Williams for his part for helping the depot in making a successful transition from chemical neutralization to possible economic advantages for Madison’s three communities.

“I do want to compliment Craig again for the work that he does in the workforce transition in particular – looking at how we can utilize those talented people who have the work ethic and the drive to be successful in the local economy, not only in Berea, but in Madison County and Richmond as well,” Fraley said at a previous council meeting. “They’ve [the BGAD workforce] worked here for years, built a life here, and they really want to stay, so I think it’s really important they have an opportunity to stay and be able to make a good living.”

The key to making an economic development strategy work, Fraley added, will be the continued cooperation of Berea, Richmond and Madison County.

“I am excited about the grant, and I think it’s going to take us in a new direction,” Fraley said. “The secret to doing this thing is going to be cooperation. It’s going to take the county – Judge [Reagan] Taylor, the city of Richmond – Mayor [Robert] Blythe, and it’s going to take me and it’s going to take all of you [the council] working together and maybe thinking out of the box and doing economic development a little differently than what we’ve done before. So, I see good things on the horizon, but cooperation is the key.”

In the steps of Daniel Boone: City, College dedicates Boone Trace Trail

Two years ago, Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley and Berea College President Lyle Roelofs were forging through the densely forested area along the Brushy Fork branch of Silver Creek, trying to find a potential path that could link Scaffold Cane Road and Boone Street.

Back then, there was garbage in nearby Silver Creek, debris from makeshift encampments scattered among the brush, and the area was so thick with overgrowth and trees, it took Roelofs and Fraley nearly an hour to traverse .7 miles.

On Saturday, Fraley and Roelofs were back at Brushy Fork Park to commemorate the completion of a joint city/college project to build Boone Trace Trail, a scenic shared use path that can benefit local citizens, tourists, as well as college students, staff and faculty.

Fraley noted Berea College dedicated the right of way to allow the city to build the trail, while the city then designed and constructed it in consultation with the college. The Berea Tourism Commission, meanwhile, pledged funds to complete the project The path, which is currently covered with gravel, will eventually be paved.

Roelofs said Fraley initially suggested the idea of the Boone Trace Trail around the time a delegation from the college had just completed a study of how European cities improve community quality of life by building shared use paths and walking trails. That spurred a partnership between the city and the college to add onto the city’s network of recreational trails. Roelofs said there may be more collaboration in the future. “We have some lovely areas, and with a little help, we can make them available to a lot of people,” Roelofs said.

Friends of Boone Trace President John Fox, M.D. addressed Saturday’s gathering, at one point asking the audience to imagine the sounds of Daniel Boone and his 40 axe men hacking their way through the brush to forge the first trail to the American West. Both Fraley and Madison County Judge Executive Reagan Taylor said Fox’s reverence for Kentucky history, along with his persistence, passion, and strong sense of place, influenced their attitudes about the importance of preserving the trail, which Fraley referred to as “hallowed ground.” Said Fraley to Fox, “Thank you for inspiring us and for believing.”

During his remarks, Fraley also expressed thanks to the City of Berea Public Works Department, and recognized Dr. Peter Hackbert and Louisa Summers of Berea College for their work in promoting healthy recreation through shared use paths in Berea, but Fox was credited with getting it all started.

 Fox was recognized as instrumental in the clean-up and restoration of Boone Gap, a trail passage in southern Madison County which was one of five historic paths Boone and his party traversed in their pioneering journey in 1775. But as much as Fox has passed onto local historians and history buffs, it appears there’s more to be learned, according to Berea College historian and scholar Sharon Mitchell, who Mayor Fraley invited to address the audience.  

Having just begun her research on Boone’s party, Mitchell said she has been inspired to learn more, particularly as it relatof es to the diversity of the people who helped Boone forge the historic path westward, laying the roots for Kentucky communities like Berea. “Thank you for this opportunity to explore history and to tie up some loose ends,” Mitchell said.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Fox, Fraley and Roelofs unveiled the wooden Boone Trace Trail sign, which was created by Berea College Student Crafts. The sign contains a QR code, allowing visitors to scan the sign with their phones and learn more about the trail and its history.

Daniel Boone Bike Trail puts Berea at the crossroads of America

Signage for U.S. Bike Route 21 (USBR), also known as the Daniel Boone Bike Trail, was unveiled Thursday in Berea near the corner of Chestnut and Boone Street. The trail, which intersects with coast-to-coast U.S. Bicycle Route 76, marks Berea’s new identity as the “bicycle crossroads of America,” officials said.

Friends of Boone Trace President John Fox, M.D. noted USBR 21, which spans 426 miles, will eventually run from Atlanta, Georgia to Cleveland, Ohio. Within Kentucky, the trail stretches from south to north from Middlesboro, following Boone Trace to Boonesborough, crossing the Kentucky River, then exiting Kentucky at Maysville into Ohio. The route follows much of the original “Boone Trace,” the historic trail established by explorer and Kentucky icon Daniel Boone in 1775.  

Fox noted that 347 road signs marking USBR 21 are going up across 10 counties in the Commonwealth. The effort to recognize the historic significance of the trail was initiated by Fox and others 12 years ago.

Officials on hand for the unveiling praised Fox for his tireless effort to research and preserve the Boone Trace Trail, and for contributing to the effort to have the trail become a tourism, transportation, and recreation resource.

In a statement released by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Fox stated: “The historic Boone Trace began the westward movement of our country. This directional signage will guide bicycling tourists safely through scenic byways while passing many historical points of interest along the way,” Fox said. “Bicycle routes also attract visitors to explore Kentucky’s towns and engage in other outdoor adventures in the Appalachian region that contribute to the local economy.”

Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley cited Fox’s efforts as one of the main reasons the Boone Trace Trail is being preserved and integrated into USBR 21, thereby putting Berea at the crossroads of two national bike trails.  

“Dr. Fox is a retired surgeon. He could have done anything that he wanted to do in retirement. What he chose to pursue was his passion to preserve, gain access to, and mark Boone Trace so that it wouldn’t be forgotten in time. I can’t overstate the importance of the work that this person has done on his own,” Fraley said, adding that the trail will bring visitors through Berea.  “I think where we are standing right now is the bicycle crossroads of the state of Kentucky, thanks to the work of a lot of people, including Dr. Fox, Dr. Peter Hackbert, and our friends at Berea College,” Fraley said.

Madison County Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor also hailed Fox’s efforts, noting he has helped elevate the community’s sense of pride in its rich history.  

“Dr. Fox, I thank you for all that you have done to preserve this roadway and all this trail means to our community,” Taylor said. “I appreciate you, and I think you deserve a round of applause for all the work you’ve put into this.”

Stating that Berea, by virtue of Berea College, was first in many milestones such as racial integration at the college and coed education, Berea College President Lyle Roelofs said it was fitting that the City of Berea would also be the first major crossroads in two national bikeways.  

Addressing the audience on behalf of Berea College’s Entrepreneurship for the Public Good institute, Dr. Peter Hackbert stated the project represents an integration of many of the qualities that make Berea a unique place.

“I think this project illustrates public good. The integration of arts/crafts heritage, the integration of adventure tourism, the combining of our hiking and the biking piece of that, are local assets that we share with other people,” Hackbert said. “This public good is an economic driver, is a heritage recognition driver, and it’s also a tool to create this asset to serve not only the citizens of Madison County, but riders on the national bike route.”

Berea City Councilman John Payne, who has advocated for the expansion of trails by participating in the Trail Town project, said the designation of USBR 21 is necessary in the continued effort to maximize the city’s recreation resources and help create a healthier community.

“This is a great next step. I want to continue promoting our bike paths, shared use paths – anything that’s getting people outside and improving our quality of life,” Payne said.

City upgrades Jefferson Street before Spoonbread Fest

The Berea City Council approved a $6,400 change order to improve Jefferson Street from Lewis Street to Morning View and to address a road base failure between North Broadway and Ellipse Street. The change order will bring the project total up to $276,565, according to acting city administrator Shawn Sandlin. Milling and repaving of the road was completed last week. Berea City Councilman Jerry Little said the action was one of the best change orders the city has ever made because of how the milling of the streets will improve the long-term quality of those roads.

The Jefferson Street upgrade was completed in time for the 2021 Berea Chamber of Commerce Spoonbread Festival, which runs September 17-19. Meanwhile, city officials are continuing to work with state officials to repair state-maintained roads, such as U.S. 25/Chestnut Street, which runs through Berea city limits.