By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
A Main Street Corbin proposal to study putting in bike lanes to connect major city streets was given approval, as well as some financial backing Monday by the Corbin Tourism and Convention Commission.
Tourism board members also got excited after they heard from a London-Laurel County Tourism Commission representative, who asked if they’d like to be involved with a bicycle ride connecting Corbin during the annual Redbud Festival in Barbourville and London.
The bike lanes proposal would begin with a master plan to form 30-35 miles of bike lanes which would connect bicyclists to downtown and major shopping areas in Corbin by way of having bike lanes installed on the city’s main thoroughfares, such as Main Street, Kentucky Avenue, Master Street and the Cumberland Falls Highway.
Corbin’s Main Street director, Andy Salmons, said the landscaping architectural firm of Carman Architects will do the study, with the cost for the study being $11,000. The cost for the study would be split between Main Street Corbin and the Tourism Commission, with Main Street Corbin’s part of the payment coming from $55,000 in their budget that hasn’t been spent so far.
“The state said if we can get together on this, they will help us. We also want to form a cycling committee to look into the proposal and make suggestions. If we can get working on this, the state hopes to have their plan for Corbin in two months,” said Salmons.
After a motion was made, the Tourism Board agreed to put up their $5,500 towards the study.
Salmons introduced London-Laurel Tourism’s co-executive director, Rodney Harrison, and both brought up the possibility of having Corbin and London connected by a bike path when the state plans to do work on improving U.S. 25 between the two cities in the years ahead.
Harrison discussed the Redbud Ride possibility coming to Corbin this spring, with a bicycle ride called a “Redbud Warmup.” He said the warmup could be run on the Sunday of the festival.
“We now have a 70-mile ride and a 30-mile ride. As a result, the Redbud Ride is one of the ‘Kentucky Century Challenge’ rides in the state this year. In cycling, a ‘century’ is a hundred miles. Last year, we had some 790 riders at the Redbud Festival, and 90 percent of them were from out-of-town. Also, we have civic organizations that sponsor rest stops along the Redbud Ride. An added bonus is that the event is sponsored by the Tourism Commission in Barbourville and the Main Street program in London. Last year, London’s Main Street made $20,000 at their rest stop,” noted Harrison.
In a separate proposal, Salmons asked the board for $4,250 for planning on building infrastructure with a city project that would rebuild the parking lot behind the Elks Lodge on Depot Street. He said the planning would go to have parking at the lot for tour buses when they were in the downtown area, and affected tourism. The motion to approve the $4,250 for the proposal was voted down.
Two other proposals were taken under advisement by the board. One involved a personal request by the Rev. John Burkhart, who in his retirement helps with gospel music singers and groups as a concert promoter. Burkhart wants to have a two-hour gospel music concert at The Arena in Corbin during the month of April, and is estimating some 2,000 people will attend with admission being five dollars a person.
“We want to make Corbin a hub of gospel music. We’ve got the people, we’ve got the equipment and we’ve got The Arena to showcase it. We’ve had concerts before, but nothing of this magnitude. I don’t think even one of the larger churches would be able to hold the crowd, and we also want this concert to be a generic Christian event. It will be the largest event of this kind in the Corbin area,” Burkhart said.
He asked the board for a $2,000 donation, which would be used to send out flyers with cover letters to help promote the concert to churches in the region. The board said they would get back with Burkhart at their next session in February.
Also taken under advisement were estimates from Celebration Lighting for lighting bracket poles. Quotes were given for 65 new banner kits for 100 poles at $8,385, service on 100 poles four times a year at $7,600, and a total cost for one year with storage at $14,750, or $14,350 for one year without storage.
Among other items, approval was given to a $1,000 donation to D.L. Lynch of Forest Bowling Lanes, to purchase a gift towel to be printed for all those students participating in the Kentucky High School Bowling Championships in Corbin on Jan. 27-28. Lynch said the event was sanctioned by the Kentucky State High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) with 13 teams participating, including Corbin High and Lynn Camp High Schools. He added each team will have 30 members, and that the towels would “show the kids that we appreciate them.”
Last year’s championships were held in Richmond. Lynch would like to have the event held in Corbin on a rotating basis, adding the rotation between schools is every four years.
In the financial report, Gail Teague filled in for board CPA Kyle Perkins who was out-of-town. She noted the board’s audit was received and the results would be available for next month’s meeting.
Teague added the board received from the City of Corbin in December $70,000 from the city’s restaurant tax. She added the year-to-date totals the board received were $544,394 for their 75 percent share of the restaurant tax, and $64,659 for their 25 percent share of the transient (or tourism) tax. The year-to-date totals cover the tourism board’s totals from the start of their fiscal year starting July 1 to the present.