Plans for Perryville park put on hold

August 06, 2004|TODD KLEFFMAN

PERRYVILLE -- Plans for a proposed park honoring former city leader Gladys Coyle were put on indefinite hold Thursday when city officials voiced concerns about the cost of maintaining it, additional liability and keeping it from being vandalized.

"I think we all are concerned about maintenance costs," said Councilwoman Julie Clay. "Our surplus this year is about $900. That's a pretty tight budget."

The pitch for the park was made by local businesswoman Barbara Brummett on behalf of her cousin, Lexie Hicks, Coyle's daughter who lives in Owensboro and did not attend the meeting. Coyle, who served as mayor and was a driving force behind many Perryville improvements, died in March.

Landscaper Gary Chidester, whose design for the park at the end of Merchants' Row features a cascading waterfall and goldfish pool, was also on hand to answer questions.


And there were plenty of questions.

After Brummett explained Hicks' concept for the park and noted her pledge of $5,000 to get the project started, one of the first concerns raised was about the overall cost and who would foot the bill.

Cost estimated at $35,000

Chidester estimated that the water feature and initial landscaping including a brick patio would cost about $35,000. Brummett said the money could come from grants and gifts.

Chidester said that if his business provided maintenance, the bill would be between $350 and $400 a month. Brummett said Hicks had spoken with various groups such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts about helping take care of the park.

Councilman John Gentry worried that the three-foot deep goldfish pool would create an additional liability risk and insurance costs for the city. City Attorney Bill Stevens said that it probably would.

Mayor Bruce Richardson said he was concerned that the park would compete with other projects the city has under way, such as installing new street lamps and sprucing up Merchants' Row buildings.

"I'd hate to see money and energy pulled away from existing projects," the mayor said.

And Clay wondered how the city would prevent the park from becoming an easy target for vandals. Keeping the fountain free of soap powder and food coloring would be a constant challenge, she said.

"What about when all the teenagers come and scoop up all the goldfish?" Clay asked. No one had an answer.

Clay called the newspaper office this morning to encourage citizens to "give us their ideas."

Suggestion of forming charitable organization to lease the park

In the end, Stevens said the proposal presented too many potential problems for the city and suggested that a better approach might be to form a charitable organization that could lease the park from the city for $1 a year and be responsible for its upkeep.

"Right now, we have a very fragmented situation," Stevens said. "I can see us spending a huge amount of time just trying to figure out who is going to do what."

The city purchased the lot along the Chaplain River in April for $15,000 with plans to turn it into some sort of public space. An old structure has been torn down and removed from the site in preparation for a park of some sort. Gentry said there was no reason to rush any project.

"That area is pretty pristine at the moment even without any enhancements," he said.

Afterwards, Brummett said she understood the council's concerns but was disappointed that the project was not given a green light. She said she would talk with Hicks and see what course might be pursued in the future.

"I'll discuss it with her and we'll just have to see," she said. "To me, it's kind of sad that they get a gift like that and they don't take it."

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