BRIAN WALKER The Kentucky Standard
A May 2006 proposal to create a park near the Bardstown city dam that could draw in boaters from several states hasn’t happened yet, but the project isn’t dead in the water. Although no official action has been taken by city government, its engineers and the council are receptive to researching the mutual benefits retro-fitting the dam on Beech Fork River and nearby area could have for boaters and the water supply.
Bardstown City Engineer Larry Hamilton said at Tuesday’s Council meeting work on a proposal with the Army Corps of Engineers along with input from a group of designers and a professor from the University of Louisville show the project is still viable. Originally the Bardstown Boaters brought the idea to light at a tourism meeting as a way to improve the dam and create a “place to play” at the same time. Spalding Hurst, a member of the boating group, said he and others must travel great distances to do some aspects of their sport. The proposed site, if made a reality, would become a destination for boaters of all types, he said.
Hamilton said the original price tag to get the engineering work completed on the dam project was $10,000. Previous commitments from the Bardstown-Nelson County Tourist and Convention Commission and the Bardstown Boaters to each pick up a third of the tab left the city with roughly a $3,300 bill to fund the project. Hamilton told the council Tuesday the work with U of L will be less costly than a Colorado-based firm suggested early on in the discussion of the proposal. He said about $6,000 is all that will be used to fund the engineering and design plans.
“The boaters have raised even more money than they said they were going to,” Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton said. “They have been very committed to this whole thing. We still have a promise from tourism for a third of the cost too.”
Hamilton said he wanted to make it clear the project wasn’t just a pet plan to benefit a few people. The gravel dam on Beech Fork River has eroded steadily during the decades since its construction. The ability to safely raise the level of the water in the area and provide more water is part of an overall review of the city’s system currently underway, he said.
Hamilton explained to the Council the low levels at Sympson Lake this summer due to a lack of rainfall has given the water department ample opportunity to investigate methods to improve pumping activities and increase the volume of water sent to the nearby treatment plant.
He said an intake screen has become partially obstructed with several tons of silt over the years. Hamilton suggested to the Council securing an engineer and contractor to create a concrete retaining wall tall enough around the intake area of the pumps to keep it free of debris. With more electrical capacity at the location through improvements in recent years, he said both intake pumps could work at once to give the city the ability to draw about 8.5 million gallons of water a day.
Currently one pump can bring in about three million and the other roughly six million gallons. With the partial blockage of the intake, neither is really functioning at full capacity, Hamilton said.