Ashland, Ky., riverfront gets #036;10.2M boost development

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 29, 2005

ASHLAND, Ky. - It is only a design on a canvas now, but in a few years, Ashland city leaders say area residents will see something bold and new along the city’s riverfront.

City business and government leaders gathered on the riverfront Tuesday morning to welcome U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who brought a symbolic check for $10.22 million to pay for riverfront development. The money is part of the U.S. Highway Administration bill, a portion of more than $100 million McConnell earmarked for several commonwealth projects.

Ashland Mayor Steve Gilmore said the city leaders already had plans to develop the riverfront into a more citizen-friendly recreation and commercial draw, but this money will expedite those plans by several years.

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"We're hoping to reclaim out into the river as much as 100 feet," Gilmore said. "We'd like to have a riverwalk. We're hoping private development will want to locate here: Retail, some shops, a marina, maybe a floating restaurant."

He said that since the announcement of the money was made a few weeks ago, some entities are already contacting city officials, inquiring about the riverfront plans, even though design is in the preliminary stage.

"You've given us the greatest gift this community has ever received," Gilmore told McConnell. "Ashland will always, always be a Mitch McConnell city."

McConnell said he had been impressed by the city leaders' plans, which dovetailed with his partiality to green spaces and riverfront development.

"All along the river, communities are beginning to discover how they got here in the first place. We wouldn't be where we are if not for the Ohio River," McConnell said.

Gilmore said the riverfront development will be a major component of the revitalization effort for the entire downtown area.