The city purchased the lot, which slopes steeply down from Buell Street to the Chaplain River, in April for $15,000. An old structure on the property already has been razed and work to clear some dead trees along the bank to improve the river vista is planned. Boyle County is helping with site preparation.
Water feature would be part of park
For her part, Hicks has donated $5,000 to get the project off the ground. That money will go toward a "traveling water feature" designed by Danville landscape architect Gary Chidester that will send water cascading from near the street to a pool below. Hicks is hoping that donations from the community along with matching grant money from state sources will help complete the park with benches, tables, flowers, shrubbery and maybe even a gazebo. The boardwalk along the river behind the Merchants' Row shops would be extended to join the park.
"This will be a place of beauty, with the sounds of gently trickling water flowing over natural rocks ... a beautiful landscape ... and a magnificent view of the Chaplain River," Hicks said. "It will be at the end of Merchants' Row, which was one of Mother's passions. I can see wedding receptions. I can see picnics. I can see just going there to sit and be quiet."
Stuart Sanders, director of the Perryville Battlefield Preservation Association, said he believes the project could attract some state money in the "fall grant-writing cycle," which begins in October. The park would be a nice addition to Perryville, he said.
"I think it's a wonderful way to provide more greenspace to the community, and also a nice way to honor someone who has given so much to Perryville," Sanders said. "It's a pretty spot. I think it's the prettiest view of the river."
Richardson said the only drawback he sees is if the park becomes a financial drain on the city. "The only concern for the city is that it be as maintenance-free as possible and that it add no additional expenses," the mayor said.
Hicks said her plans for the park will make it so the city has little expense and responsibility for the project beyond its purchase of the property. She hopes that Perryville residents and businesses who remember her mother will pitch in, not only with the money, labor and landscaping to get the project started, but also help with the park's upkeep.
"Dad has that huge clock," she said. "I want this to be something for Mother."