Somerset Mayor Alan Keck spoke to the public Tuesday through Facebook Live, addressing both the problems with pedestrian traffic that he alluded to in the previous night’s city council meeting, as well as promising a new open-air festival: Derby in the Set.
The two subjects went hand-in-hand. Keck explained that he wants to see the initiatives taken to revitalize downtown Somerset succeed safely.
“It’s important that if we’re going to get this many people downtown that they feel safe to traverse day-in, day-out,” he said.
He asked everyone to do a better job in watching for pedestrians.
Stopping at crosswalks, Keck said, was “hit and miss” for drivers.
“Sometimes people slow down, sometimes they don’t. Look, pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks. Let’s be respectful of our folks that aren’t in cars, and slow down,” he said.
To help with pedestrian safety, Keck reminded that the Connect Somerset project is moving forward. That project will bring sidewalks to areas that are heavily traveled by pedestrians, like Monticello Street and around the hospital.
The city received a $2 million grant last July by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet through the Commonwealth’s Transportation Alternatives Program.
Keck said he hoped to see the first phase, a sidewalk connecting the downtown area with Somerset Community College, done by the end of the year.
Once the major projects are complete, Keck said he hopes that there will be funding left over to work on some of the other requested areas, such as spots of South Oak Street as were talked about at Monday’s City Council meeting.
While walking and driving motorized vehicles are options for moving around town, sadly Keck said there were no plans to bring in horses for the Derby in the Set festival.
Derby in the Set is scheduled for May 2 from 12:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Similar to last year’s downtown bashes, the festival will be held in the streets of Somerset and will feature food, drinks, music and art, according to the event’s Facebook page.
Keck said he hoped that it would be southern Kentucky’s biggest outdoor Derby party.
“If you don’t have plans for the Derby, make plans to be in downtown Somerset,” Keck said. “We’re going to recreate some of what you’d see at Churchill Downs. And I think it will be another spectacular opportunity to come together as a community.”
Following that, Keck said three other festivals are planned, all second-editions of last year’s gatherings.
Foodstock will take place the first weekend in August, the Moonlight festival will be in October, and the New Year’s Eve bash will be held on New Years Eve, he said.