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City to reimburse for mussels' move

BY CARRIE DILLARD cdillard@paducahsun.com

Paducah will pay $135,706 to the Kentucky Waterways Alliance for the relocation and monitoring of four mussel species impacted by riverfront development.

The mussels were relocated in October 2012. As a requirement for moving forward with the riverfront development project, the Paducah City Commission will vote to pay mitigation fees to the Kentucky Waterways Alliance on Aug. 26.

The city learned of the endangered mussels on the riverbank in April 2009, nearly three years after the initial planning and design of the riverfront project, which includes an expansion of Schultz Park and a boat launch.

To lessen the impact on the mussels' development and the cost of relocation, the city decided to move the project 500 feet downstream in November 2011.

"The cost was going to be $399,050 in its original location. By moving the location downstream, we reduced the cost to about $136,000," City Engineer Rick Murphy told the commission Tuesday.

The city received a cost estimate by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Kentucky Ecological Services Field Office in 2012.

The terms include $20,000 for the future monitoring of the mussels and $71,706 for environmental impacts related to 6.29 acres of mussel habitat. The payment also includes a payment of $44,000 related to relocating Fat Pocketbooks, Pink Muckets, Orangefoot Pimplebacks, and Sheepnose mussels affected by the riverfront work.

The city's total obligation to the Kentucky Aquatic Resources Fund (KARF) for the monitoring, habitat, and propagation of the four impacted mussels is $135,706.

Commissioner Allan Rhodes said KARF uses its funds to monitor water quality and aquatic species, and to support conservation projects throughout Kentucky.

Murphy added: "These monies go back into the Ohio River basin. They go back into the environment to improve areas that were lost."

During the Tuesday meeting, the commission also approved an ordinance for an Upper Story residential grant program to promote the development of rental housing in downtown Paducah.

Property owners within the district are eligible to apply for aid for 20 percent of the construction costs or a maximum of $15,000 per rental unit.

Planning Director Steve Ervin said he has a few property owners already interested.

The city's planning department and Urban Renewal and Community Development Agency will oversee the allocation of funds up to $60,000 per project. If a project exceeds $60,000, the city commission will have final approval.

Contact Carrie Dillard, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.

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