City chooses riverfront project plan

The current phase of Paducah’s riverfront development project is likely to start moving forward next week.

Three out of four Paducah city commissioners plan to vote in favor of finishing the current phase of Paducah’s riverfront project as planned.

Commissioners had four options. Option 1 would move forward with the project as bid, making improvements to Schultz Park, adding a gangway, as well as a transient dock with fuel for boaters. The lowest bid for this option was $8,353,888.

Tuesday night, commissioners agreed to move forward with option 1, but will use the project bid’s first deductive alternate choice. This will reduce the planned transient dock from 400 feet to 340 feet. It’ll save $240,777.58 making the total revised bid amount $8,113,110.42. Below is a breakdown of the costs.

FHWA Funds: $3,920,000.00
BIG Grant $910,000.00
City Match $320,000.00
Additional City Funds $2,963,110.42

Commissioner Allan Rhodes is not okay with spending that much money on the project. He says Tennessee Valley Authority numbers from 2010 to 2014 show an average of 698 boats travel for pleasure through Lake Barkley a year. He feels that means there isn’t enough demand for boaters and that the city should only make improvements to the park that can be used by anybody.

Rhodes is also concerned money isn’t being saved to make improvements to the old Executive Inn site, which would be in between the new Holiday Inn and any riverfront development project.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Carol Gault said she was surprised by the amount of phone calls she received in favor of pursuing the entire project. Sandra Wilson said she’s heard from several people as well supporting it.

“I will say the response I have received has been to go for it,” Wilson said.

The other options range from $700,000 to about $2 million in extra funds. Option 2 would fund improvements for just the park, option 3 only builds the dock, and option 4 would pay to do portions of the dock and park improvements. Options 2, 3, and 4 require a rebidding process, which means costs aren’t guaranteed and some lose grant funding.

The city is looking at pursuing bonds to help cover the extra costs. Commissioners will vote at next week’s meeting. Bids for option 1 are valid until Nov. 6.

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