Madison Fiscal Court voted Monday morning to condemn 1.6 acres of land near the end of College Hill Road where the Kentucky where the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife will build a small park and boat ramp.

The vote to condemn was taken after the court emerged from a brief executive session. Madison Judge-Executive Kent Clark said attempts to negotiate a reasonable price for the property had been unsuccessful.

Clark said the state would build the ramp and park, which would be similar another state-constructed facility where Barnes Mill Road at Paint Lick Creek.

The county’s Battlefield Golf Course reduced its operating deficit in 2007, but fell short of its goal of profitability, according to a report from manager Clay Hammrick. He put the deficit at $61,688.

The course’s annual revenue, $406,527, increased by $60,132 over the previous year, but expenses increased by $36,345 to $468,196.

“I had hoped we would meet our goal of profitability this year, but revenue dropped off in the fourth quarter,” Hammrick said. Revenue had been strong during the summer months when the course went 45 days without rain.

Of the 23 public golf courses in Central Kentucky, Battlefield charges the lowest fees, but those may increase slightly this year, Hammrick said. Battlefield also is the southern most public course in the region, and Hammrick said he would focus marketing efforts this year on attracting golfers from counties to the south.

The opening of Exit 83 on Interstate 75 and the rebuilding of Duncannon Lane should help boost business at the course, Hammrick said.

The new exit should reduce a golfer’s trip from Rockcastle, Laurel and Pulaski counties to Battlefield by 15 minutes. “We’re already drawing golfers from those areas,” he said.

Hammrick said he also hopes to boost revenue this year by continuing to add membership and expand tournament and league play. The course, which completed 2006 with 109 members, hopes to have 150 by the end of 2008.

The 33 tournaments this year brought in more than $16,000 over the previous year. The course also will increase its marketing to women.

Magistrate Roger Barger complimented Hammrick on his management. “I know we had a couple of rough years out there early on, but I think you will become profitable soon,” he said.

Magistrate William Tudor said purchase of the course also included a sewer plant that has allowed the county to provide service to other homes in the neighborhood.

Both Barger and Tudor, however, expressed concern about county expenditures.

Tudor asked Clark to schedule a work session to review county finances after second quarter reports are received at month’s end.

“The public needs to know that we’re observant stewards of their money,” he said. “I know we will have to spend money to make the golf course profitable, but is it practical to be spending that money now?”

The court also heard a report from Dr. Walter Borowski of Eastern Kentucky University, who has been analyzing the water in the county’s Wilgreen with some of his students.

E. coli and coliform bacteria at several points in the section of Taylor Fork beyond Old Town Branch reached levels at which they were not recommended for human contact this summer. On June 26, a reading at eight points on Taylor Fork and one near the head of Old Town Branch came in at the no-contact level.

While E. coli levels were improved by the July 17 reading, coliform levels then were still at the no-contact level at four points on at the east end of Taylor Fork and far upstream on Old Town Branch and upstream in Pond Cove.

High levels of coliform persisted in east end of Taylor Fork through Aug. 15. While E. coli levels throughout the lake were acceptable for swimming on Aug. 15, coliform levels would not have been safe for human contact then at four points on both Pond Cove and upstream on Taylor Fork and just west of where it meets Old Town Branch.

Most of the high microbial counts were found near septic tank locations, but Borowski’s report said a sewer pumping station also could have been a source.

A complete, written report should be submitted by May, Borowski said.

The court also accepted the recommendation of its planning and development commission to rezone property for commercial use at US 421’s intersections with KY 3376 (Old US 25) and KY 1016.

Barger was the lone vote against both recommendations. Magistrate Larry Combs was absent.

After the meeting, Barger said he opposed the changes because businesses at both sites would use septic tanks for waste water treatment.

The county has moved away from a previous policy of not allowing commercial development that depend on septic tanks, he said.

“We’re spending millions of dollars to establish public sewer service in some parts of the county, but then we’re dirtying up other parts,” he said.

Barger said also was oppose to rezoning that would allow construction of subdivisions. “We had a report from the planning office not long ago that there were 900 unsold homes in the county,” he said. “Why would we allow new subdivisions with so many unsold homes on the market?”

Bill Robinson can be reached at brobinson@richmondregister.com or at 623-1669, Ext. 267.

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