by Heather Tomlinson
City officials are thinking that Somerset’s recreation center may be starting to outgrow itself.
During the Monday, Nov. 25 meeting of Somerset City Council, several councilors expressed interest in adding to the Rocky Hollow Recreation Center’s basketball courts to better accommodate an increasing participation in the center’s basketball programs.
“I think that place needs to be expanded,” said Councilor Jim Eastham.
Eastham said he spoke with several staff members there about the number of participants in the basketball programs. The recreation center’s two basketball courts are used for both recreation leagues and for Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball tournaments.
Eastham said with the two programs combined, some 135 different basketball teams utilized Rocky Hollow’s two courts last year.
“The need is there, the participation is there,” said Eastham.
The AAU league brings in players and their families from outside of Pulaski County, and Eastham pointed out that Rocky Hollow is one of only three AAU-sanctioned locations in the state. The other locations are in Lexington and Louisville, and both have at least eight basketball courts compared to Somerset’s two.
“It’s been used, and used, and used,” said Eastham. “Everything’s been expanded except the facility itself. The number of kids, the number of parents and grandparents that come and go, the use of community rooms.”
Soon after Eastham brought up the idea of expanding Rocky Hollow, several other councilors weighed in as well.
“I know that we’ve really got a great park system in place ... but I’ve had some concerns about the number of teams, coaches, kids ... and how the park system will maintain that,” said Councilor Tom Eastham. “I would like us to look into that.”
Councilor Jim Rutherford, who’s youngest son has participated in the AAU leagues, said the additional participation warrants an expansion.
“The possibility of expanding is there,” said Rutherford. “It will be used, there is no doubt about it. Participation has probably doubled since I was involved in it years ago. It’s just unbelievable.”
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler said the city would look into adding at least one basketball court at Rocky Hollow.
In other news from the Nov. 25 City Council meeting:
• Jim Eastham asked if the city could look into several citizens’ comments about an inability to see incoming traffic while crossing the pedestrian crosswalk on east Mt. Vernon Street on the north side of Fountain Square.
“You have to get out into the crosswalk ... to see if anything’s coming or not,” said Jim Eastham.
• Councilor Jim Mitchell praised the city’s road department for cleaning leaves out of a road quickly after he reported the issue.
• Councilor John Ricky Minton said he received a letter from a Saddlebrook resident complaining about young kids in the neighborhood on golf carts. Minton said the citizen suggested the kids could be driving dangerously and asked if the Somerset Police Department could get involved.
Girdler said SPD Chief Doug Nelson was informed of the situation.
• Minton also asked that the city consider selling gasoline to the public. Minton has long been vocal with his concerns about local gas prices in comparison with surrounding areas. Minton has asked that Girdler look into selling gas to the public as a possible way to force local gas price decreases.
“Let’s quit talking about it, let’s just do it,” said Minton. “It’s not going to stop unless we as a city do something about it.”
Girdler said the city had a “contingency plan” in place.
• The council approved a “pigging” agreement with natural gas company CGI Enterprises. Pigging is a process by which liquid by-products are removed from a natural gas pipeline to help prevent build-up in the system, which can result in lowered productivity and, in some cases, complete blockages of the pipeline.
Girdler said the by-products gather in the low points of a pipeline system. The city currently owns an extensive natural gas pipeline system that runs across eastern Kentucky.
“As it flows through the pipeline, the heavier (things) ... drop out,” said Girdler.
The council approved entering into a contract with CGI Enterprises to clear the pipelines of the by-products.