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Forum scheduled for Jessamine Creek Gorge

County officials are hosting a discussion for the users and neighbors of Jessamine Creek Gorge Nature Preserve to try and find a middle ground before reopening the property July 1.

The forum will be at 6 p.m. Monday at the pavilion at 95 Park Drive, according to Jessamine County Judge-Executive David West’s office.

The forum was suggested during the June 16 Jessamine County Fiscal Court meeting, where West and the magistrates discussed reopening the county’s rental buildings and some of the county parks following the coronavirus pandemic.

West said several residents of Corman Lane have complained about hikers trespassing on their property, and would like to see it stay closed. The hikers would like to see it reopened as soon as possible, he said.

The property, which includes a loop trail, is owned by the county and was purchased with funds from the Nature Conservancy, he said.

The posted rules for using the property, he said, include staying on the trail and out of the streams.

“There is, I believe, a large number of people in the stream,” he said. “There is a waterfall down there. To access it, some people have trespassed on private property to get there.

“They are off the trail so much they’ve made trails.”

There have also been complaints of people being there late at night, after the preserve closes at dusk, he said.

West said he wanted both sides to be heard.

“We’ve got to find some solutions to treat this piece of property as it was meant originally,” he said.

Earlier in the meeting, the court voted unanimously to reopen the outdoor spaces at High Bridge and the Keene Playground.

The county’s three rental buildings: the “blue building” at City-County Park, the Keene Lodge and High Bridge pavilion, have been closed since March. Reopening now means the county would have to comply with state guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing the facilities after each rental. Contracting with a licensed cleaning company would cost the county $150 per cleaning,

West said the county may be able to use some of its CARES funding to cover those expenses, but the magistrates discussed possibly adding it as a cleaning fee on the rental agreement.

“You don’t want someone who might be asymptomatic at one event and the building not be sanitized and someone comes back and becomes infected,” West said.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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