Officials update city on Lincoln Street project

Behind the scenes work for rebuilding Lincoln Street is continuing, though construction likely won’t begin as soon as some hoped.

Kriss Lowry of Lowry and Associates updated the Winchester Board of Commissioners on the project earlier this week, and said steps are being made toward acquiring the needed property.

Last year, the city received a $1 million Kentucky community development block grant in 2018 to help fund the project. Plans for the the city to purchase all properties on  Lincoln Street, redraw the property lines for lots, widen the street and improve infrastructure. Habitat for Humanity of Madison and Clark Counties has committed to build several homes as part of the project.

Lowry said offers have been made for 10 properties along the street. Two of those had been accepted and were scheduled to close this week. She also said she had met with all but one of the renters on the street to discuss relocation benefits and assistance.

Offers have also been made for the eight vacant lots along the street, none of which were valued at more than $10,000, she said. Finding the owners, though, can be complicated between heirs and multiple liens, she said.

“Some of the deeds go back to the 1800s,” Lowry said. “It took a lot more background (research) than usual.”

The grant, she said, will pay for property acquisition, relocation and clearances for the property.

One piece of property, she said, may have to be obtained through legal condemnation.

Habitat for Humanity director Darcie Cunningham said the organization is committed to build five homes in the neighborhood, but no families have been approved yet.

“It’s a little slow getting families approved,” she said. “I think families will come.”

Cunningham said Habitat is applying for a federal grant to help with construction costs as well. Cunningham said they hoped to begin construction in spring 2020, but it may not happen.

The overall project will fix a number of problems, including a street that is too narrow for two-way traffic, lots that are too small for current codes and some homes that are too close to the railroad and its associated noise.

The project will be performed in multiple phases, one side of the street at a time.