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Highway 245 would be widened in plans

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By Alex Wimsatt

SHEPHERDSVILLE - While local tourism officials await federal approval on the recently resubmitted Highway 245/Interstate-65 exit 112 interchange beautification plan, a proposal to widen 245 is also in the works. 

During the March regular meeting of of the Shepherdsville-Bullitt County Tourist and Convention Commission, Bullitt County Tourism director Troy Beam shared that he recently met with state officials to discuss turning 245 into a scenic parkway.

Without revealing too much of what was said during the closed meeting, Beam said widening 245 from the I-65 exit 112 interchange to Jim Beam’s Clermont distillery was discussed.

Incidentally, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet first sought public input on alternatives for widening 245 during an informational meeting held at Bernheim Middle School the summer of 2011.

The alternatives offered at that time: A divided four-lane section with two lanes in each direction and a raised 20-foot median; a divided four-lane section with two lanes in each direction and a depressed 40-foot median; and a five-lane section with a shared center left turn lane to be used in dense areas of access points. 

Boasting some of Bullitt County’s top tourist attractions, including Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Crooked Creek Boy Scout Camp and Forest Edge Winery, a wider 245 would not only head off the increasing traffic demands in the area, but would enhance the aesthetics of the corridor, which is home to Jim Beam, the final stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Beam said.

With the commission so involved in both the proposed road project and the I-65/Hwy.245 interchange beautification project, commissioner Tom Kelly again expressed concerns that certain properties along the corridor weren’t being properly maintained.

Returning to the car lot he called an “eyesore” during the commission’s September regular meeting, Kelly asked Beam if property maintenance standards were discussed during the meeting with state officials.

“Has that ever come up?” Kelly asked. 

Beam said it had, but only briefly.

Kelly said, in his opinion, all the properties along the corridor should be held to higher standards, adding that he couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t up in arms.

No further discussion ensued.

In other business:

*Having passed a motion to issue a letter supporting the Heritage Hill golf course in Shepherdsville as a renowned tourist attraction during their February meeting, commissioners were told the letter had been sent. 

Beam, who took the Concerned Families of Bullitt County’s request for a letter of support to the commission, said the letter had been sent. 

Keeping in mind the controversy surrounding a 2012 proposal to rezone land around the Heritage Hill neighborhood for industrial use, as well as the group’s opposition to the proposal, Beam said the letter merely explained how the goal of local tourism was to promote local attractions and the golf course was one of those attractions. 

Kelly said he had read the letter and that it was well written for its purpose.

* It was reported that January hotel tax receipts fell slightly from the previous year, despite the steady gains seen in the months leading up to 2013.

Hotel tax revenue for the month of January deposited in February fell nearly 4 percent from the same period last year, according to Kelly, the commission treasurer.

During the month of January the commission collected $26,839 in hotel tax revenue. In 2012 the commission collected $27,860.

As hotel tax revenue declined, so did restaurant tax revenue. 

*After reporting activity from the previous month, Paroquet Springs Conference Centre director Vicki Downing said it may be time to reconsider the center’s food cost goal in the next year. 

As the price of food has risen and as kitchen staff have improved the quality of the conference center’s menu, Downing said food costs were “high” for the year.

Downing said the price of meat in particular, especially beef, has risen exponentially in recent months. 

With that she said the conference center’s current food cost goal was not attainable, and though she emphasized it was not something that needed to be addressed right away, she said an achievable goal would be 35-40 percent. 

Additionally, Downing reported that conference center sales revenue fell 21 percent from the previous month, citing the cancellation of a large annual event as part of the reason for the drop. 

On the other hand, she said profitability for the month was 62 percent, which she called, “pretty good.”

*The next regular meeting of the Shepherdsville-Bullitt County Tourist and Convention Commission will be held on Tuesday, April 16 at Paroquet Springs Conference Center in Shepherdsville. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. The public is invited.