Perryville burying its tangle of overhead lines

June 18, 2004|TODD KLEFFMAN

PERRYVILLE - If Barbara Brummett stepped out the front door of her Perryville Furniture Mart, she'd fall headlong into a hole big enough to swallow a bulldozer.

While that kind of inconvenience would make most business owners bellyache, Brummett sees beyond the everyday hassles of life in a construction zone to a time not too far off when Perryville will be a more attractive place to live and do business.

"Our town is so old it needs a facelift," Brummett said. "When people ride through our city, we want to represent a charming, historic city that we're all proud of."

The "facelift" is coming in the form of the $450,000 Perryville Streetscape Project, which began in March to bury the tangle of overhead utility lines along a stretch of U.S. 150 in the heart of the city. Even though patches of sidewalk are dug up, orange barrels line the streets and heavy equipment lumbers in and out of traffic, the project is ahead of schedule and should be completed within a month, said Don Davis, the job's general contractor.


"Overall, it's been one of the smoother jobs I've done in a long time," said Davis, of Hil Don Inc. in Burkesville.

Perryville's long-held hopes of removing the unsightly electric, phone, cable and other lines from public view finally came together earlier this year when the city rounded up enough grants and contributions from the state, county and the city itself to make the project a "go."

It was initially administrated through the city's Main Street program, but that agency went into limbo when former director Krista Rinehart left in April. City Clerk Mona Followell has since been administering the project.

"Construction had already started when she left, so it didn't have much of an impact," Followell said. "I've just been writing the checks."

Work on Merchants' Row is on drawing board

On the drawing board is a second phase of the project that would bury the utilities along Merchants' Row on Buell Street. But that work won't begin until another round of funding is gathered, Followell said.

While city leaders are excited about the project, some residents are growing weary of dodging backhoes and wonder if the money is being well spent on aesthetic improvements. William Sleet, who lives in Perryville and works for Key's Nursery and Landscaping Co. in town, said running back and forth several times a day through the construction has become a real headache.

"Oh, I'll definitely be glad when it's over. Sometimes it's pretty tough to get through town," Sleet said. "It's a waste of money to me. They could have found a lot more useful things to spend that money on."

Brummett, however, believes the beauty treatment will enhance Perryville's quality of life and attract more tourists to town. She hopes it will build momentum for other efforts, such as installing tall, elegant black street lights - like those on Centre College's campus - along U.S. 150. She plans to pay for one to honor her parents, E.M. and Martha Worley, who started the furniture store in the 1940s, and hopes other past and present businesses will do the same.

"I've been on the Streetscape Committee for a number of years, so I'm glad to finally see this project get under way," she said. "You have to upgrade. Look at all the cities around us. Danville's doing things. Harrodsburg has done things. Lebanon. Jamestown over on Lake Cumberland. We needed to do something. We haven't done much since 1862 when the battle (of Perryville during the Civil War) was fought here."

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