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Commission faces hurdles to improve town

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By Mark Mattmiller

We can see that there have been some overall improvements in our city and we feel that we are headed in the right direction. However, Cynthiana is facing some serious problems and the solutions to some of these are difficult at best. This might be a good time to point out a few of our major hurdles and what the commission is doing to try to solve them.

Our infrastructure is old and deteriorated. The water and sewer lines were put in sometime around 1910-1925 and their old age is showing. They are breaking, caving in, or are not large enough. Our city engineer, Mr. Gary Royalty, has organized a plan to not only repair what breaks, but also to take some pro-active steps towards replacing the whole system. The low water pressure at Reynolds Avenue and Old Lair Road (14 homes on a one-inch line) are the next jobs to be tackled.

When it rains, the wastewater that runs to the treatment plant and must be treated goes from 500,000 gallons to over five million gallons per day. This results in a huge expense. Somewhere there is a crossover connection between the storm sewers and the wastewater lines and our men are working everyday to locate it. The old time treatment of sewage was bodied in the saying, “solution of pollution by dilution,” and so storm sewers were sometimes connected to the raw sewage lines. The result today is that we have to treat an extra 4.5 million gallons of sewage everyday it rains until we find the crossovers.

The Church Street/viaduct debacle is almost over. After years of delays, construction has finally begun on the new overpass. The residents of Church Street have had to put up with no parking, increased noise and dirt, and the nuisance and danger of all of the trucks. They have complained very little and have been good sports about it all. The construction will make it all a little worse, but we are glad for them that the end is near.

Something must be done about the A-Keller dam. Thankfully, this summer season was wet and rainy so that the river didn’t dry up and become a stagnant, nasty and stinking cesspool alongside our downtown and park.  Commissioner Billy Grayson has organized an A-Keller Dam Committee to address the engineering, funding, and repair of the dam. Their attitude is not the question of “if” the dam can be repaired, but rather “when” it will be repaired. We are optimistic that a solution will be eminent.

There has not been an increase in the water rates to Cynthiana residents since 1992. This is very bad business and now we are faced with implementing a substantial rate increase to everyone. This is not pleasant for anyone. I wish there was some other solution, but there isn’t. We had a deficit of $122,000 last year in the water department alone and they are running a very efficient organization.

The old City Hall is in terrible shape. It was built in the 1920’s and has not aged gracefully. The floor is weak, the bathrooms are beyond repair and the overall condition is awful. The gym is used almost every day during the winter months. It is becoming an embarrassment. We are organizing a group to search for grants, plans, and funds for a new indoor facility to be built at the Flat Run Veterans Park. This must be a top priority for our commission and our revenues.

The “Handy House” stalemate has lingered for over seven years. The whole park has been registered on the National Register of Historic Places and the county/city cannot do anything destructive to the house without jeopardizing any chance of receiving federal grants. The Historic society and the joint city/county administrations are close to an agreement that will free us from this dilemma. When this is completed, we will be able to look forward with our park development.

Overall, the appearance of our town is so much better than it has been in the recent past. People have really thrown themselves into cleaning up, but there is room for improvement. It’s interesting that a very small handful of people seem to take the attitude that the positive initiative is for everyone else. Some seem to think that the city is singling them out when they are asked to observe the codes, while others strive to be good citizens and try to help their community to grow and prosper. Aggressive enforcement of the codes and ordinances is the only solution.

There are, of course, other hurdles that we are facing, but these seem to be the most pressing. Please be assured that the current board of city commissioners is not backing down from the issues and problems that must be addressed in order for our town to flourish.