Making progress

Westport Community Park project
receives state grant

The park and public boat ramp
have been there since 1950s.

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

WESTPORT, Ky. (July 2006) – Westport resident Kathy Hockersmith thinks the Westport Community Park is “a real asset to the town.” But this unkempt asset is in need of a major overhaul.

Westport Park Sign

Photo by Helen McKinney

Although the park is used primarily
during the boating season, plans are in
the works to make it “a true family park.”

In its heyday, Westport was a thriving river port in the 1800s. Although river travel and shipping goods by boat is no longer a popular method of transportation, the park is still utilized for its boat ramp.
Originally the county seat, Westport contains the only public boat ramp between the area and Madison, Ind. The park comprises two acres along the Ohio River.
Hockersmith guessed that the park and ramp have been there since the 1950s when concrete block houses were built for weekend vacationers to rent.
Evidently, several government officials have also noticed the parks’ state of disrepair. The 2007 Kentucky state budget includes $250,000 for repairing, widening and extending the boat ramp, and adding amenities to the park. A trio of state and local officials were instrumental in getting funding said Oldham County District 3 magistrate Bob Leslie: state Sen. Ernie Harris, state Rep. David Osborne, and Oldham County Fiscal Court magistrate Duane Murner.
Leslie also gave credit to a local citizens group, Friends of Westport. Established in 2004, the mission of Friends of Westport is to “improve the quality of life in Westport,” said Hockersmith. “And to help preserve what we have and maintain its uniqueness.”
“The idea (for upgrades) was presented in Fiscal Court by Michael Braden and William Cooper,” said Leslie. The men drew up a plan and a community consensus was sought, Leslie said.

Westport Park Boat Ramp

Photo by Helen McKinney

Friends of Westport have completed
initial upgrades but would like to see
future additional improvements.

Hockersmith said plans call for working on the bank by terracing it down to prevent erosion, adding plantings, benches and a floating boat dock, establishing a separate fishing dock, moving the existing basketball goal inside the park boundaries, installing playground equipment and creating more parking.
After completing the initial upgrades that have to be made to the dock and ramp area, there are several supplemental improvements Friends of Westport would like to see accomplished. Phase II of the project would consist of acquiring up to five additional acres of land to expand the park size. Currently, it is the smallest park in a county that has taken great leaps in expanding its parks system.
An old theater rests upon adjoining property, which Hockersmith said could be renovated for the Westport Community Theatre. This theater group is scheduled to present a play on the life of abolitionist Henry Bibb in the fall.
The county is responsible for the upkeep of the park. Westport residents would like more attention given to maintenance.
“Traffic needs to be routed one way through the park,” said Hockersmith. She feels boats need to make a loop that will swing them around to Main Street, instead of taking side roads and dipping into residents’ yards.
The next step in this project is to submit plans to an engineering firm. Although the park is used primarily during the boating season, Leslie would like to see it become “a true family park” for residents.
She has been instrumental in acquiring funding for reconstruction of Hwy. 524, the main road into Westport, by getting it placed on a six-year state budget plan for the Friends of Westport.

• The next public meeting of the Friends of Westport will be held at the schoolhouse in Westport at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24.

Back to July 2006 Articles.



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