PADUCAH, KY (KFVS) - Development authority recommendations were discussed at the Paducah City Commission meeting on Tuesday, April 15.
Paducah Riverfront Development Authority Chairman Bruce Brockenborough presented the findings of several months of review by PRDA regarding the Riverfront Project specifically the next phase of the project, Phase IB.
"I think what we have here is a victory for the community," Brockenborough said. "I think this is a truly transformational project that will enhance downtown and LowerTown and our investment in the most cost-effective way."
PRDA was recommended in September 2013 by City Manager Jeff Pederson and the City Commission to review the project elements and available grant funding after the first phase of the project which included the rock base and 12 steel pilings did not bring the project to the desired elevation.
"We needed to let the rock settle as planned, but we needed to wrap our minds around this project. It was finally here, not just on paper," Mayor Gayle Kaler said. "We were seeing the project come to life."
The PRDA board met 10 times in addition to several members visiting Clarksville, Tennessee to review its riverfront. The review of Paducah's project was based on the following values: creating recreational opportunities, connecting people to the river, promoting Paducah as a regional tourism hub, and enhancing the opportunities for private investment.
"We allowed those values to guide the decisions that we made," Brockenborough said.
The Board presented several recommendations in moving forward to best utilize the $5.1 million available in grant funding. The strategy is summarized as follows:
- The PRDA recommends finishing the next phase of the project (Phase IB) and not abandoning the work that already has taken place. Abandoning the project would jeopardize the grants still available and could void the City’s construction permit with the Corps of Engineers. However, to finish the next phase some items will need to be eliminated from the project, some will be reduced in scope, and others will be delayed in their implementation.
- It has been calculated that 67,500 tons of rock is needed to bring the rock base of the park to the desired elevation. PRDA recommends building to the designed elevation to minimize the frequency of being covered by flood waters and to minimize maintenance costs. Approximately 10,000 tons of rock could be substituted with soil at the highest peaks of the park to minimize the rock cost.
- The PRDA recommends the transient dock/pier to include power, potable water, and a fueling system. The Board feels it may be possible to find a private fuel vendor interested in providing the capital necessary to provide all or part of the fueling system.
- The PRDA recommends adding additional railings to the transient dock/pier for pedestrian safety. The original design of the pier outlines a center rail; however, the Board recommends a railing on both sides for pedestrians to safely enjoy the 20-foot wide structure.
- At this time, the PRDA does not recommend pursuing a marina or a marina services building and its associated sanitary sewer system. The City may look at a public-private partnership in the future for a marina.
- The PRDA suggests deferring the parking and roadways in addition to the landscaping (trees, shrubs, perennials) from the base bid and utilizing the City budget and a Greenway Trail grant to fund those items.
- The PRDA also recommends providing three bid alternates: 1) Substituting concrete deck panels for the ironwood (ipe) for the transient dock/pier (concrete is a less expensive choice); 2) Reducing the 400-foot transient dock/pier by one section, a reduction of 60 feet; and 3) Reducing the size of the stone steps to the river (revetment) by 20 percent.
In summary, the PRDA compiled approximately $1.75 million in items to eliminate, reduce, or defer from the base bid for the next project phase. The next phase of the project would include finishing the park to its designed elevation in addition to the transient dock/pier.
"We believe we have delivered to you a great project," Brockenborough said. "You'll get a view of downtown and LowerTown that you never thought we had."
The construction cost, not including the deferred elements of landscaping, parking, and roadway, is estimated to be approximately $5.28 million. The city has $5.11 million available in grant funding. Nearly a half million dollars will be needed to complete the construction project and the deferred elements.
The Mayor and Commissioners voiced their support of the efforts made by the Board in reviewing the project.
"You were the exact second pair of eyes that we needed to look at this," said Commissioner Richard Abraham.
Commissioner Carol Gault complimented the thoroughness of the report.
"It's a win-win for our own citizens and for those wanting to come here," said Commissioner Sandra Wilson.
Commissioner Allan Rhodes, who has concerns and questions about the project costs, said, "I don't want to be negative, but I worry about the costs."
Commissioner Gault made a motion to send the PRDA report and recommendations in addition to necessary supporting documents to the State of Kentucky and the associated grant agencies including Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Federal Highway Administration for approval.
Commissioner Wilson seconded. The motion passed unanimously. The city needs approval from the state on the project amendments before it can place the project out to bid.
In looking ahead, the PRDA wants to create a master plan for the remaining unused portion of the former Executive Inn site.