July 18 forum to list community priorities

In 2004, the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce drew up a list of seven community priorities to present to the Kentucky General Assembly.

And it’s been revising the list — in conjunction with the Owensboro City Commission, Daviess Fiscal Court and the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. — every two years since then.

At 7:30 a.m. on July 18, the chamber is hosting a public forum at the Commerce Center, 200 E. Third St., to begin putting together a list to be shown to candidates this year and members of the legislature in 2020.

That first list in 2004 included money for riverfront development, the advanced technology center at Owensboro Community & Technical College, biotechnology program development, completion of the U.S. 60 bypass interchange at Pleasant Valley Road, four-laning of Southtown Boulevard from Frederica Street to Airpark Drive, four-laning of U.S. 431 to Muhlenberg County and continued federal funding of the airport runway expansion project.

Those items — with the exception of four-laning U.S. 431 — have all been completed by now.

Candance Castlen Brake, chamber president, said the forum is open to the public.

She said, “We’ve accomplished a lot because we’ve all been on the same page” in lobbying legislators for projects.

In 2016, Brake said, the community was able to maintain funding for projects in the six-year road plan, upgrade the Natcher Parkway to an I-65 spur and four-lane Kentucky 331 to the Owensboro Riverport.

The legislature also approved money for a family court judge in Daviess County and a family residency program at Owensboro Health, she said.

Those were among nine priorities.

But upgrading the Audubon Parkway to an I-69 spur, a new downtown parking garage/transportation hub, Phase II of the Downtown Master Plan and a new judicial center didn’t make it.

In 2018, Brake said, money was found for a second family court judge, lighting the Glover H. Cary Bridge, maintaining funding for local projects in the six-year road plan, upgrading the Natcher Parkway to I-165 and completing the four-laning of Kentucky 331.

Again, there was no money for a new judicial center or upgrading the Audubon Parkway to an I-69 spur.

This year, Brake said, the community will get another chance to create a list of the most important local projects.

The process starts with the July 18 forum, she said.