The completion of the Wilmore streetscape project might require use of public funds designated for road, water and sewer improvements after Asbury Theological Seminary has refused to pay any more toward the project than originally promised.
Wilmore utilities director Dave Carlstedt said he likely will ask the Wilmore City Council to approve the allocation of $50,000 to $75,000 from the city’s municipal road aid and RRE (Renewal, Replacement and Extension) funds for the project’s completion.
The $2.8 million Wilmore Streetscape Improvement and Pedestrian Mall Project, which has been in the works more than seven years, consists of improvements along East College and North Walnut streets, including construction of new sidewalks, lighting, signing and landscaping along with new city water, sewer and conduit for utilities, as well as construction of a new turnout on Lexington Avenue at the Asbury Seminary entrance.
The project has mostly been funded through a government grant that pays 80 percent of the costs, with a requirement of a local 20 percent match. At the beginning of the project, Asbury Theological Seminary, which sought the grant money for the project, said it would pay that 20 percent, Carlstedt said.
Asbury Seminary made a case for the project in 2005, hiring a lobbyist to seek support. In 2007, a federal grant was dedicated for the project, with the city of Wilmore named as an owner on the grant because it could not be given to a private institution such as Asbury Seminary. Also, the project called for public improvements, Carlstedt said.
The seminary at that time set aside a little less than $781,000 for the project.
However, some of that went to the entire cost of constructing two parking areas. The federal grant money could not be used for those lots, Carlstedt said.
Also, the project has cost more than anticipated, Carlstedt said.
Asbury Seminary’s president has said the seminary will not pay any more than the amount already set aside, Carlstedt said.
The utilities director said if the city has to pay for some of the project, it is still a good deal for the city.
“It’s not a stretch for Wilmore to have to participate,” he said. “We’ve gotten hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements so far.”
The city has paid none of the construction costs so far, he said.
Also, the money being requested comes from funds designated for these kinds of improvements, not out of the city’s budget, and there is enough money in those funds, Carlstedt said. The municipal road aid fund contains about $350,000, and the RRE fund contains about $200,000, he said.
Carlstedt said he doesn’t know whether the project will require more local funds before completion.
The project cost as of the end of January was $2,448,986.58, according to the budget, with an estimated four more months of construction to be completed.
The completion date for the project has been extended twice. It originally was scheduled to be completed by September 2012, then December 2012. The improvements couldn’t be completed by that deadline mainly because of utility lines belonging to Time Warner Cable and Windstream that have yet to be moved, Carlstedt said.
The project is now slated to be finished by June 30, he said.
Carlstedt said he plans to make his request for the funds at the Wilmore City Council’s next meeting, scheduled for Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council heard a proposal from Rachel Powdrill asking for a change to a zoning ordinance that would allow her to have more than four people in her home during the day. Powdrill wishes to use her home at 204 East Linden to care for elderly persons. Powdrill already received permission from the Jessamine County Board of Adjustments to care for up to four live-in people in the home, but she told the council she also would like to offer day-care services and be allowed to have up to 10 clients.
The council asked Carlstedt to research the ordinance and report his findings at a work session scheduled for Jan. 19. Also at that session, the council will discuss a proposal to take over the Wilmore Cemetery.
The next regular meeting of the Wilmore City Council will be Feb. 18, and a work session is scheduled for Feb. 19. Both meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m.