Downtown Revitalization

Winchester Avenue is four lanes with parallel in the 1400 block of downtown Ashland. KEVIN GOLDY | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT

ASHLAND Downtown is getting some new names to go with its facelift, in connection with efforts to rebrand Ashland as a destination center.

The City Commission decided unanimously Wednesday to have the city attorney draft ordinances officially naming the area between 13th and 18th streets between Greenup and Carter Avenues “The District” and to rename the former Judd Plaza “Broadway Square.”

The decision for naming the 15-block portion “The District” was on the recommendation of Destination Ashland, a work group christened by the city in order to help rebrand downtown as a center for food, drink and activities.

Kerry Tague, a representative from the group, said the naming of the area was the result of a community survey that received 926 responses. From the survey, Tague said the group could winnow down the focus of the branding effort.

“We’re hoping to eventually have 240 events downtown in our ‘Community Living Room,’” Tague said.

Mayor Steve Gilmore said the name change is a result of the working group implementing the recommendations of Roger Brooks, a consultant specializing in city branding.

“You get it,” Gilmore said to Tague. “I’m confident there were differing discussions, but you took what he said and applied it. I’ve said this in the school system and in city government; it’s easy to circle the wagons and fire in at each other, but I’m hoping this revamping will keep the wagons out and we’ll continue to see everyone help in this effort.”

The name change on 16th and Winchester is part of the city street beautification project that has been ongoing this year. Gilmore gave the commission a history lesson — through a city map drawn in 1877 and black and white photographs of the Ashland of yesteryear, Gilmore said 16th Street used to be called “Broadway.”

“You think of Broadway in New York, they didn’t name it after the musicals,” he said. “It was called that because it was the broadest street in town. Here in Ashland, it was the same deal.”

Back in the day, Broadway Street ran from Lexington Avenue straight to the banks of the river. From there, goods and people would get off of ships and flow into the city, Gilmore said.

When picking a name for the new common space on Winchester and 16th Street, Gilmore said he wanted to pick something that harkened that rich history of commerce and travel.

“This is a gift to the city I hope our children and their children will get to enjoy,” Gilmore said. “I wanted to see this done when I was on the commission and now we get to see it.”

The following is some other business taken up in the meeting:

City manager report

City Manager Mike Graese reported Filters 3A and 3B have had new under drains installed at the water treatment plant.

As detailed in the last weekend edition in The Daily Independent, the new under drains are expected to last longer and have fewer parts subject to failure.

The filter issue at the water plant has been an ongoing problem, with media — a sand and coal mixture used to filter the water — getting into the water. While city officials have said it has not effected water quality — it gets treated after going through the filter — it was a cause for concern.

“They are amped up down at the water plant,” he said. “We’ve had issues with contractors in the past, but this contractor installing this is moving right along.”

Graese also reported four-fifths of the water distribution $1 million capital projects budget will be allocated in two separate projects. For more details on that, check out the Friday edition.

Items of note

The commission also voted on the following items:

The commission voted unanimously on the first reading of an ordinance for a contractor awarded to Womack Excavating for the second phase of the Pollard Mills storm drain, gutter, curb, sidewalk and paving project. The project is estimated to cost $385,061.15 and is being funded through the Community Block Grant action plans from 2019 and 2020. The commission also awarded the contract to Womack in the consent agenda.

The commission approved the first reading of a change order — meaning the price went up — of a repair and cleaning contract awarded to Kentucky Granite Inliner LLC. The increase will be fore repairs on Auburn Avenue and for increased cleaning on Winchester between 39th and 55th Streets. The price will increase by $121,044.98, to a grand total of $671,829.98.

Due to restrictions on gatherings larger than 10 people per the governor, the commission voted unanimously against authorizing a poker run organized by Bombshells and Ales on Aug. 1. The city attorney said the restaurant understood and indicated there was no issue with disapproving it.

Commissioner Amanda Clark raised a concern about the part- or full-time status of an assistant to the corporation counsel position during a first reading approving a revised job description. Clark said she was concerned about where the money would come out of the budget to raise the salary from the budgeted $65,000 to $87,000. Graese said the part-time description had been removed, however Clark contended nothing had been posted to the position showing it was full-time. Clark voted against the measure, while the rest of the commission voted in favor.

The commission voted in favor of paying $4,500 on the design of sidewalks, stairs and handrails by Howerton Engineering and Surveying PLLC at Deboard Terrace. The city has paid $40,500 on the design. The total contract is $48,000. Clark abstained from the vote due to a conflict of interest.

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