July 30--LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. -- The first three to four months of the city's restaurant tax has already been earmarked, according to London's Director of Risk Management, Rick Cochrane.
Cochrane has been working with Mayor Troy Rudder for the past four years to build a wellness park on University Drive near the Laurel County Public Library and Somerset Community College Laurel Campus, but the project has been plagued by delays due to funding issues. To date, the park has been funded almost entirely through federal grants.
"The Wellness Park is going to be a million-dollar project," Cochrane said. "We knew that from the very start. At the rate we were receiving grants it would take another 12 years to complete the park."
Cochrane and Rudder approached the London Tourism and Convention Commission earlier this year to request funds to finally complete the project. The tourism commission agreed to fund the completion of the project.
"This is going to be a huge tourism draw when we get it done," Cochrane said. "We're going to have a bike park unlike anything you've ever seen. The only one like it is in New York City."
The bike park section of the Wellness Park is expected to include a BMX trail, several miles of bike trails and an bike skills course. Cochrane said that plans to purchase additional land to link the Wellness Park to Levi Jackson State Park are being discussed. Levi Jackson is working on converting nearly 20 miles of their existing walking trails into bike trails
"We really want to prove to people that London is the cycling capital of Kentucky," Cochrane said. "When you put that you have more than 30 miles of bike trails on the internet, people are going to come. Having this is going to really increase tourism and bring people to London."
In addition to the skateboard park and bike park, the Wellness Park will also include three NCAA-sized basketball courts , playground equipment for children of varying ages and a splash pad. Cochrane added that additional activities will be available for visitors, including a picknick area with barbeque grills and trash recepticals built around the existing coal silos.
"The mayor and county judge-executive want to promote a culture of overall wellness by engaging the citizens of London and Laurel County to spend more time with their children and promote personal wellness, by providing a Wellness Park that is filled with exciting ways to exercise, bike, walk, and interact with each other in a peaceful and safe outdoor family setting," Cochrane said.
Installation of the playground is expected to begin as early as Monday and the park is expected to be open to the public by October.
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