A second City Commission listening session for the public brought about mostly positive input Saturday morning at Danville City Hall.
After hearing an overview of last year’s budget from city manager Ron Scott and financial consultant Michele Gosser, the floor was open to the 25 or so people in attendance. Seven of those addressed the commission, each offering bits of advice on how life in the city might be improved as the commission begins to prepare the 2013-14 budget.
Resident Mark Morgan said rather than exhausting the budget on new projects, the city should make better use of the assets it already has.
For instance, Morgan said the city’s bike lanes are convenient but the street sweeper the city has isn’t used enough.
“Something I’ve noticed for a long time ... we got a new street sweeper that will sweep the bike lanes we have,” Morgan said. “If it’s not used routinely then the bike lanes get a lot of broken glass on them so people don’t use them for biking.”
As a result, Morgan said bikers ride side-by-side with traffic, which can be dangerous. He said an easy fix to this problem would be to make it a weekly routine to use the street sweeper.
“Just using the equipment that we already own on a routine basis would make (bike lanes) more usable,” Morgan said.
Morgan extended his idea to include street sweeping on the bike lane all the way to Perryville, even though it’s outside city limits. His reasoning is that biking is a big tourism attraction.
“It would be a simple bike ride from downtown to Perryville out to the battlefield and back,” Morgan said. “And it would become a destination if we marketed it right. So it’s using facilities without building anything.”
Bill Simpson said he appreciated Morgan’s idea to clean up bike lanes.
“I’d like to echo Mark’s comments, especially because I’m a biker,” Simpson said. “Been doing that since the 1980s when we moved here and the sweeper’s a big help.”
Simpson also brought up Lexington Avenue saying it is not very biker-friendly. He said he detours through a park to avoid Lexington Avenue when the bike lane runs out and there is heavy traffic.
But when Simpson begins on Lexington Avenue for a bike ride, he said “there’s a couple of potholes that I¿don’t want to hit, and so I¿will dodge them hoping there’s not a car coming.”
Continuing discussion on streets was Mermaids owner Tim Robbins, who said the city should work on ways to make downtown more friendly, not only to cyclists but those on foot as well.
“I think it’s very important that we make our downtown and all of the community more pedestrian friendly,” Robbins said. “I’ve passed literature along to members here on the importance of traffic calming and streetscapes and how that will encourage people out in the community, like the bikers.”
Robbins said sometimes lights are out downtown at night in Danville, which is “dark and unwelcoming.”
Other comments included:
n Mary Beth Touchstone, director of the Community Arts Center, said she would like to see the budget “embrace the arts.”
She said Danville is one of five desginated cultural districts in Kentucky and “I’m simply asking that you find ways to say ‘yes’ to public arts.”
n Sarah Vahlkamp said she is concerned if the city’s water treatment plant is going to be affordable in the long run.
“Perhaps it’s an unwarranted concern and I¿hope it is,” Vahlkamp said. “I certainly realize improvements have to be made.”
Vahlkamp said she is concerned with how much the cost of the project, estimated at up to $30 million, continues to rise.
n Robbins also brought up alcohol sales tax, which was heavily discussed at the previous listening session.
“Taxes are eating me alive,” Robbins said, adding that every drink he pours at his bar carries a 5 percent city tax and 6 percent state tax for the customer. “I’d like to see if that can be reviewed and see where those dollars are being spent.”
n Janet Hamner said cemeteries are not included in the budget and should be.
“It is a concern for the public,” Hamner said.
A survey for residents to be heard on the budget will remain online until March 15. A report of the public’s comments from the two listening sessions will be produced Feb. 28 and presented to the commission.