City Engineer Rick Murphy went over a variety of concept drawings Tuesday for a planned excursion boat landing that will be part of a major riverfront project that uses federal funding.
In November 2019, city officials announced that Paducah would receive $10.4 million through the competitive Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant. The city’s BUILD project plans feature many enhancements to the downtown riverfront area, including the construction of a riverboat excursion pier and plaza.
“We recently had a ribbon-cutting on the (Greenway Trail) Phase 5 and we unveiled some concepts down there that got several of you all excited,” Murphy said during Tuesday’s Paducah City Commission meeting. “What I want to share with you tonight and the public is some of those concepts.”
The concept drawings depict an excursion boat landing area that’s parallel to the riverfront, and it can be used for docking when the river is at different levels — up or down. It would also be a “fixed” construction facility and could provide a safer and easier docking experience for excursion boats and their tourists, according to the city.
In his presentation, Murphy also showed artistic concepts that incorporate two box-looking structures located by the riverfront. He said there’s been lots of questions about the structures, but explained they were used in the past as foundations for a conveyor system that carried materials from barges over the flood wall.
“We’ve left these things in place because there’s opportunity here,” he added. “We could’ve probably removed them for ($5,000) to $10,000, but if we wanted them back, it would probably cost us about $100,000 to build them back, so we left them here for opportunities.”
He explained the project’s concept drawings are to give people an idea of what its engineering and permitting teams are working for.
“They’re using these concepts to gain our ability to move forward. But first, we need to make sure all of our regulatory issues are resolved with the BUILD grant requirements because of all of the environmental, I guess, requirements that we have to meet,” Murphy added.
Several city officials expressed excitement about the project.
Mayor Brandi Harless noted she likes the low-maintenance concept. Commissioner Sandra Wilson told Murphy she thinks it looks great and said “let’s get it done,” while Commissioner Brenda McElroy added that she can’t wait to walk down and see a big riverboat there.
Murphy’s entire presentation and the commission meeting may be viewed at the city’s YouTube page, paducahkygov. Visit paducahky.gov/build-grant-2019 for more information about the BUILD project. Earlier this year, City Manager Jim Arndt shared that the whole project could take several years to complete.
Also on the meeting agenda:
• Bruce Wilcox, president/CEO of Greater Paducah Economic Development, presented on update on GPED’s activities and touched on its accomplishments, including negotiations for the sale of the Genova building on Commerce Drive. He reported that GPED is working with 20 projects in different stages of development.
• The city commission approved a municipal order to accept $1,786,875 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. It will be used to reimburse public safety employee salaries and no local match is required, according to the city.
• A benefits adviser from Peel & Holland gave a presentation to the commission on the city’s 2021 health insurance plan through Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. People who participate in the city’s health plan will have no change to their health insurance premiums as compared to the current year, according to public information officer Pam Spencer.
• The city commission approved an ordinance that authorizes the city to collect taxes for the Paducah Independent School District. The school district set its property tax levee at 86.4 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is the same rate as fiscal year 2020.