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Giving some thought to the south side of E’town

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Column by Ben Sheroan, editor

By Ben Sheroan

How do you get from what is to what could be? Of course, it starts with an idea.

So here’s my dream for the day: The south end of Elizabethtown could and should be a more vibrant retail and economic corner for the community.

That part of town grew with the arrival of the interstate. Major hotel chains, including Holiday Inn and Ramada located there. Jerry’s and Long John Silver’s — then under the same ownership as part of a Kentucky-based restaurant chain, located and still serve the area.

But over the years as the interstate exchange has changed and the buildings have aged, the south side has seen a steady decline. New stuff popped up at Exit 94 and Exit 91 declined.

The state road plan has money for another possible exit further south that also would provide access to an extended Ring Road. But the present exit, which also connects with Lincoln Parkway and the Western Kentucky Parkway still has extraordinary potential.

I-65 provides a bird’s eye view for tourists of the exchange. What if you could look off to the side and see the new city’s convention center with its elevated walkway over U.S. 31W leading to a sleek, new modern hotel?

Dreams are not enough as the folks who have invested years trying to revitalize the Public Square and downtown Elizabethtown can surely attest.

Work by local businessman Kevin Addington on the former Town & Country clothing store, which he acquired last November, has made significant cosmetic and structural improvements for what is now home to the Heartland Whole Life Buying Club.

Addington has demonstrated dreams are nice but without active, interested owners willing to invest, very little happens.

One of the southside residency hotels has been condemned nearly a year. By contrast another across the street has seen some renovation and now carries a national brand name on the sign.

In the last couple years, some investment has occurred on the south end. There’s a Dollar General, Five Star and Subway plus a liquor store. That’s not a boom but it certainly is not a bust either.

If the right people take notice something can happen. By 2020, Elizabethtown could have three prosperous interchanges — not just one.

Dreams can come true. But so can nightmares.

Time will tell.

Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at 270-505-1764 or bsheroan@thenewsenterprise.com.