SEPTEMBER 19, 2015
PLANS FOR NEW RIVER WALK PROJECT WERE UNVEILED AT CEREMONY
Louisa, KY — A celebration was held Thursday evening, September 17, to dedicate the first ever outdoor mural in Lawrence County and to publicly unveil the plans for the proposed Louisa Riverwalk, a development project for the riverfront in downtown Louisa.
The mural and the riverwalk is a collaboration between the city and the county whereby grants were obtained from the Center for Rural Development by Lawrence County Economic Development Coordinator, Catrina Vargo and Louisa Mayor Harold Slone.
The Center for Rural Development based out of Somerset, KY, is a branch of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), a regional economic development agency which provides funding for counties in the Appalachian region.
Vargo applied for a grant for the mural project which depicts a historical scene of the three rivers; the Levisa, Tug, and Big Sandy, as well as the locks, bridge, and a modern day kayaker, which represents today’s recreational use of the rivers. The kayaker is holding a bottle of coke, which is significant to the community with the Coca Cola Bottling Company being in existence in Louisa since since 1905. The mural will be a focal point for the riverfront development project, located on the Advanced Eye Care building on Vinson Avenue.
Mayor Slone applied for a grant for a professional architectural plan for the proposed riverwalk, a development project for the riverfront between the bridge and the locks that include a walking/bike path, overlook and info kiosk at the locks, splash park at the pool, walkway from the bridge down to the point, floating dock, amphitheater, and a zip line. The plan also calls for additional parking, bathrooms, and lighting.
Amenities would be added later such as benches, picnic tables, shelters and such. “These are only conceptual plans, and nothing is set in stone” said the Mayor, however the response from the crowd was overwhelmingly positive.
During the ceremony Thursday, Vargo, Slone, and Tourism Director, Keith Chaffin all stressed the importance of Louisa’s unique geographic asset due to its position at the convergence of the Levisa and Tug Rivers into the Big Sandy. “We are just like Paducah, only on a smaller scale” Vargo said.
Mayor Slone talked about how everyone will be able to use the riverwalk. “Folks are walking, biking, hiking, and the number of kayakers that come through here is phenomenal. I just saw a pontoon on the river the other day.” The riverwalk will also be handicap accessible. “We want everyone to be able to enjoy the river” he said.
Chaffin acknowledge the history of Louisa and Lawrence County and how important these rivers have been to the development of the community. “We have a great opportunity here to increase tourism in our area” he said. “We have a very unique bridge, where you can go to the middle and turn right. It has been listed in Ripley’s Believe it or Not. On the other end of this development area, we have the first needle dam built in the Umited States. These are huge assets that other towns would love to have.”
All agreed that the riverfront project will bring people into town. “This is the kind of thing that people will drive off the highway to see” said Slone. Vargo added that the riverfront project is an economically sound decision. “When more people begin to visit downtown, the need will arise for more shops, restaurants, and other attractions. People want unique places to shop, eat, and other things to see and do.
This will create a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to establish small businesses.”
County Judge, John Osborne said he was proud that the city and county are working together. “This is what it’s all about, it’s going to take everyone working together to move us forward. We want the city and the county to be all it can be, and this is a huge step toward that.”
The artists who painted the mural, Melanie Osborne and Denise Spaulding, were present and said how much they enjoyed working in Louisa. “I am impressed with your community and I commend you for looking back on your heritage while looking forward to your future” said Spaulding. Osborne said “We have met a lot of nice people in Louisa.” Osborne and Spaulding are the artists who painted the flood wall murals in Ashland and Catlettsburg.
Engineer, Kevin Milliman with Summit Engineering was also present and spoke one on one with folks, explaining the project designs which were displayed at the ceremony.
State Representative, Jill York also spoke at the ceremony and congratulated community leaders on the project. “This is the result of a lot of hard work and shows what can be accomplished when everyone shares the same vision and is dedicated to work together to see it through.”
After the ceremony, everyone in attendance enjoyed a cookout hosted by the city and the county. Mayor Harold Slone and ED Coordinator, Catrina Vargo both commented on how excited they were about this project, and thanked everyone who came out to support it, as well as the sponsors who helped with the ceremony.