Commonwealth Journal

November 30, 2012

State officials still looking over square plans

Transportation Cabinet: ‘No idea’ when final call will be made on project

by Bill Mardis
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — A final OK on the Fountain Square Beau-tification Project is expected from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet this week, but as of Wednesday, state officials were still poring over the contractor’s proposal. 

A Transportation Cabinet spokesman said he had “no idea” when a decision will be made.
Jim Isaman, spokesman in the Transportation Cabinet’s public affairs office, said The Office of Local Programs, administ-ering office for the federally funded Transportation Enhancement Grants, is still reviewing a summary of the bid proposal by Hil-Don Inc., the Burkesville company that sub-mitted a low bid of $760,665.39 to renovate the square. Renovation of Fountain Square will be done with an $800,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant and $200,000 in-kind contribution by Pulaski County gov-ernment.
Asked if what might appear to be an extended review means there are problems with the proposal, Isaman said “no.” Nobody said so, but it stands to reason the approval process has been delayed by the Thanksgiving holiday that created a break since the bid proposal was sent to Frankfort. Pulaski Fiscal Court, during a special meeting November 14, awarded a contract to Hil-Don, subject to final approval by the Transportation Cabinet. 
Tiffany Bourne, community development director for Pulaski County, said recently she hopes construction can begin in December and be completed ahead of the first Somernites Cruise the fourth weekend in April. She said April 1 is the projected date for completion.
Efforts to contact Bourne Wednesday and Thursday were unsuc-cessful. She did not answer her cell phone or telephone at her office.
Construction in the Fountain Square area raises questions about possible traffic congestion. Amber Hale, information officer for the Kentucky Depart-ment of Highways District 8, said Bourne has complete details about the project’s effect on traffic. However, Hale said “ ... traffic flow around the square will remain the same according to the permit the county has with us (Department of Highways).”
The bid advertisement says the scope of construction includes demolition of the existing fountain, sidewalks, walls, site amenities and electrical components. It includes installation of a new fountain, sidewalk pavement with pavers (eliminated), light poles and fixtures, irrigation, landscaping, retaining walls and seat walls.
A new fountain reportedly will be an eye-catcher. A powerful and impressive water display will jut from a small pool and falling water will cascade off the smaller pool into a larger pool. Base lighting will illuminate the gushing waterfall. 
Also, the fountain’s antiquated electrical wiring will be upgraded. The existing fountain is hooked to the courthouse electrical system and operation of the fountain often disrupts computers in the various offices. Bourne has indicated the design of Fountain Square will complement the courtyard at Pulaski Court of Justice.
Other notable changes in the renovated Fountain Square area will be relocation of the statue of John Sherman Cooper. The statue of Somerset’s native son, now facing west, will look south toward First and Farmers National Bank.