Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Editorials

July 30, 2013

Now for sale

ACTC foundation abandons plans for old Parsons building

ASHLAND — It’s official: the ambitious plans of the Community and Technical College Foundation of Ashland to turn the upper floors of the old C.H. Parsons Co. department store into a conference and community education center and a home for the school’s nursing program have been nixed. The foundation is putting the six-story building on the market.

One can’t blame the foundation for abandoning plans to develop the large structure at 1620 Winchester Ave. Funding for higher education in Kentucky remains flat and the chances of ACTC securing state funding for the renovation of the building were extremely long.

One can also question whether the college really needed the space for classrooms or a conference center. Since plans for the Parsons building were first unveiled, ACTC has developed its beautiful new Technology Drive campus about 20 miles from Ashland in EastPark and moved many of its programs to that campus.

If the college needs additional space for classes and other programs, it has abundant room at its Roberts Drive campus. It does not appear the plan to create a magnet school that would attract the top high school students from Boyd, Greenup, Carter, Lawrence and Elliott counties on the Robert Drive campus are going to be realized, leaving the former home of the Ashland Area Vocational Technical School greatly underused. Finding new uses for that campus is a greater priority than renovating the Parsons building.

The Highlands Museum and Discovery Center occupies the basement and first two floors of the Parsons building, and it has no plans of moving. Nor should it. We think the museum is one of the best kept secrets in this region. 

Bob Maher, president of the Community and Technical College Foundation of Ashland, and Ashland Community and Technical College Dean of Resource Development and External Affairs Larry Ferguson said they were hopeful the museum’s directors will buy the building. That would certainly be the best option, but we are uncertain the museum has the financial ability to buy the building, which the foundation hopes to sell for $600,000.

The demise of ACTC’s plans to move college classes into the Parsons building marks the second time our hopes that having college students regularly attend classes downtown would help revitalize the central business district have fizzled.

When Morehead State University began offering classes on two floors of the G.B. Johnson Building — the former headquarters of Ashland Oil at th corner of 14th Street and Winchester Avenue — we had hopes the MSU campus would attract hundreds of students downtown who would patronize nearby businesses. But our hopes for great economic benefits from the downtown campus were never realized, in part because many of the MSU classes were in the evening when more stores downtown are closed.

MSU eventually abandoned the Johnson building and began offering upper-level college classes on ACTC’s College Drive campus. That has proven to be an arrangement mutually beneficial to MSU and the community college. Morehead is one of several four-year schools that offer enough classes on the ACTC campus  to allow students to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in some programs without leaving Ashland.

Although MSU’s presence downtown failed to do much to revitalize the area, we had hopes the presence of ACTC’s nursing students downtown would have a greater impact that MSU’s students did. After all, the nursing students would at least be attending class during the day. But it is not to be, and another ambitious plan to revitalize downtown Ashland has bit the dust. Don’t blame the community college. Its mission is education, not economic development.

From a practical standpoint, the announcement that the foundation hopes to sell the building does not change much of anything. It means the Parsons building will remain much like it has been since soon after the department store closed, with the museum on the lower floors and the upper floors vacant. Unfortunately, it is hardly the only downtown building mostly vacant.

Our hope is a viable use eventually will be found for the upper floors, not only of the Parsons building, but of other downtown buildings. In the meantime, we have no choice but to be patient and to hope.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • Positive trend

    For those adults who have a low opinion of American teenagers, Uncle Sam’s latest study of worrisome behavior among teens provides some good news: Teens are smoking less, drinking less and fighting less. Most forms of drug use, weapons use and risky sex also are declining — and have been since 1991, the year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first started surveying teens about  their behavior.

    July 24, 2014

  • Research's value

    In pushing for a higher education reform bill in the late 1990s, former Gov. Paul Patton set an ambitious goal of having the University of Kentucky become a Top 20 research university by 2020. UK has yet to accomplish that goal, but UK and the University of Louisville both have made great advances in research in recent years.

    July 24, 2014

  • Deadline is near

    People with Kentucky driver’s licenses may soon be required to show a passport or some other accepted form of federal identification to enter “restricted” or “semi-restricted” areas of federal facilities, including federal courthouses, military bases, federal prisons and a wide range of other federal offices.

    July 23, 2014

  • Issue is safety

    The Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control has recommended softball  “players at first base, third base and pitcher utilize the permissive requirement in the playing rules and wear face/head protection.”

    July 23, 2014

  • More difficult

    In a state like Kentucky with the number of adults who have not graduated from high school is much higher than the national average, undereducated adults have been encouraged to earn high-school equivalency degrees by studying for, taking and passing the General Educational Development (GED) test.

    May 22, 2014

  • Primary election sends messages

    The voters — or at least the minority who took the time to go to the polls Tuesday — have spoken, with Boyd County voters sending mixed messages in the county-wide races that gathered the most attention.

    May 21, 2014

  • Click it or Ticket

    "Click it or Ticket” is a phrase used so often in recent years most of us hardly give it a thought.

    May 21, 2014

  • Top trooper

    Thumbs up to Trooper First Class Shane Goodall of Flatwoods for being named 2013 Trooper of the Year for Kentucky.

    May 20, 2014

  • 05/18/2014 — This Week in the Tri-State

    Local news

    May 18, 2014

  • 0518greene.jpeg Greene-Lounsberry

    John and Eva Greene of Greenup are proud to announce the engagement of their daughter, Stacey Nicole Greene, to Jonathan Wesley Lounsberry.

    May 18, 2014 1 Photo