Group offers vision for Garrard park

September 19, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - About 30 people, including state legislators and local government officials, attended Garrard County's first "Partners for Progress" meeting Thursday night.

The group, which formed three years ago but hasn't met since, spent nearly two hours discussing a proposed recreational park. "I think this is something good for the community," said PFP President Jerry Browning.

State Sen. Tom Buford (R-Nicholasville) told the crowd gathered at the Garrard County Extension Office that Jessamine County's system of 12 parks started with the ideas of two people, Shelby Combs and Lonnie Mason. "They had difficulty convincing others in the need for parks," he said.

Buford said the key was the city and county working together. "That started a wonderful plan," he said.

State Rep. Lonnie Napier (R-Lancaster) said there are two questions that must be answered before a park can be developed: "Where are we going to get the money, and once we get the park, who is going to maintain it?"


Both Buford and Napier promised to seek state grant money for the park projects, but they cautioned that because of a tough economy, not much money is available. "You as a group cannot write grants. You must go through the fiscal court, which is a taxing district," Napier said. "You gotta decide what you want."

Expressing a willingness to help, Napier said it will cost between $75,000 to $100,000 a year to maintain a swimming pool.

Several people mentioned the success Harrodsburg has had with its pool. "They expected a $30,000 to $40,000 loss, but they turned a profit their first year," said Garrard Chamber of Commerce President David Land.

Resident Angie Crossfield said not only has Harrodsburg made its pool profitable, it has helped the community. "It's unreal what they have done. Neighborhoods are working together," she said, speaking of how various groups in Harrodsburg held functions at the pool to help fund it this past summer.

Partners Vice-president Brenda Powers asked people to state their goals for recreation, and she said her dreams include walking trails, a bowling alley, a skating rink and basketball courts. "All the surrounding counties have good parks, and I'm not knocking Hubble-Logan Park," she said of the park on the Lincoln-Garrard County line which is maintained by both counties.

Land said essays written by members of the chamber youth leadership team share common goals for Garrard County. Young people wrote that they want new places to "hang out," an in-county entertainment complex, bowling alleys, a pool, after-school programs and movie theaters.

"My vision," said Land, "is cooperation between the Chamber, Partners For Progress, and Garrard County Tomorrow. We have to take baby steps. Do you know of someone to donate land?" he asked the audience.

Others in the audience said they want more fields for soccer and football.

Apathy of northern Garrard County residents discussed

Also discussed at length was an apathy that exists from residents in northern Garrard County. A man who said he coaches girls little league basketball said he cannot convince people to take part in the program. "I told them (games take place at) Lancaster Elementary. They don't know where it is. They come to Garrard County to live, then they go back up (Hwy.) 27 to work."

"I live in one of those neighborhoods," one woman chimed in. "They find no reason to come to Lancaster. They send their water bill in, they send their property taxes. They have their children involved in activities in those other counties. (Fayette and Jessamine.)"

"We need something to bring their kids in," said Crossfield. Powers asked if the Lancaster/Garrard Co. Jaycees park could be expanded. Rex Speake said the Cox family may be willing to donate about three acres. He said a grant is being sought for soccer fields and to make improvements to the concession stands. "The way our facilities are, we cannot host tournaments.

"What I would like to see is one large facility," Speake said. "Four to five ballfields, soccer, football, all in one location." He said a parks and recreation director needs to be hired to oversee all the programs.

A woman asked if the community could take advantage of property the school board owns or will own. That prompted words from Superintendent Ray Woolsey, who said public hearings concerning their future facilities plans were very poorly attended.

"Citizens, you have got to tell the board members what you want, because they're spending your money," he said.

"Maybe if we buy land for the new high school, enough will be left over to build a (recreation) facility," Woolsey said. "If we build a new high school, it must last 40 to 50 years. You don't want to mess it up. Right now, nobody is saying anything."

Woolsey said citizen lassitude was evident in a recent hearing over the nickel property tax increase approved by the board. "We raised your taxes five cents and nobody said anything."

He said Garrard countians need to be more involved in their community. "Make a fuss. Make people aware of what you want."

Partners For Progress will meet monthly, said Browning. A date of Oct. 21 was set to meet again at the extension office and the agenda will include electing a board of directors.

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