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June 2012
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DONE City right in deciding not to relocate dome

Paducah city officials say we've seen the last of the Dome Pavilion, and for our part, we think it's for the best.

Alternately referred to as "the bubble", "giant slug" and some worse things, the 37,800 square foot inflatable structure has been used almost exclusively to provide vendor space for the annual AQS QuiltWeek in Paducah.

The city purchased the dome in 2009 at a cost of $825,000 and spent about $775,000 more to build a concrete base and purchase other amenities needed to support its operation. It was used to replace some of the 75,000 square feet of vendor space lost when Paducah's former convention hotel, the Executive Inn, failed and was demolished.

The dome is being retired because the new convention hotel, a Hilton Garden Inn, is slated to be built on the site where the dome is traditionally erected, just outside the floodwall across from the Julian Carroll Convention Center.

There was discussion about using the dome again at a new location as part of the city's Renaissance Area Master Plan, but Steve Doolittle, executive director of the Paducah Riverfront Development Authority, says the city has opted not to pursue it. "We decided that is not the direction we are going," Doolittle said.

We find that a relief. There had been talk that a location for the dome might be re-established somewhere on the convention center side of the floodwall. Our take is that while we understand the reasons the city obtained the dome originally, and we'll grant that it was highly functional for its intended purpose, it has aesthetically been an eyesore. It just looks out of place in our otherwise historic downtown.

Further, under state regulations regarding temporary structures, the dome can only be in operation six months out of the year. In the off months it must be taken down and stored. In addition to the time and expense involved, our observation is that with each passing season the external appearance of the dome deteriorated.

The dome just didn't fit in downtown, and it certainly wouldn't complement the convention center and Expo Center if relocated in proximity to them. We think the city has a much better solution to the vendor space problem by way of its plans to rehabilitate the old Executive Inn Showroom, which was spared from the wrecking ball for just such a purpose.

There have been other suggestions for the dome, such as using it for an indoor ice skating rink in the winter, and while we think that would be popular, we think the problems of where to locate it and how to cover the operating expense make it impractical for the city.

So as it stands, the dome remains for sale and the city's plan is to eventually be rid of it.

The structure has served its purpose, and we agree with the city that it is time to move on.

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