The Department of Parks has an option to purchase the land, but plans have been put on hold due to a lawsuit brought by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations about a prevailing wage issue dealing with the state parks.
Czerwonka told magistrates that prevailing wage would not be an issue for him and his associates, and they would hire Garrard Countians to do the work.
Czerwonka used Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, and Nicholasville as examples of areas that have drastically changed business-wise after alcohol began being sold.
"This would be a very gentile experience, something along the lines of a nicer horse farm," Czerwonka said. But he told magistrates a feasibility study by the state reflected the park would lose over $487,000 a year.
"We don't dispute that fact," Czerwonka said. "The entire (state park) system continues to lose money ... our land lease would be predicated on gross sales, and we have a private investors' group put together - we cannot operate at a loss."
"What I'm wondering is if Garrard County is ready for this type of change?" asked Magistrate Fred Simpson, adding it would be a huge undertaking for the county.
Czerwonka said, "I think the community is past due. There would be growing pains, but U.S. 27 is being widened, and the players are in place ..."
He said the move would lessen the tax burden on residents and provide sustained, planned growth. Czerwonka responded to financial concerns by adding the group will make money by marketing the product, offering an excellent service.
"The room rates will be more like $100 to $250 a night. The cottages will be even more.
"We will be actively marketing what we have, and we would manage a campground on the 90 acres on the Palisades, with walking trails, a campground - we'd manage that as a part of the contract with the state," Czerwonka said.
Decision rests with community
Judge-Executive John Wilson told magistrates the court does not have a say as far as liquor sales go in Garrard County, and that it would ultimately be up to the community to decide if this is the type of growth it wants.
"It's the greatest thing that will ever happen to Garrard County," said Magistrate Ronnie Lane. "It's nothing but a plus. I can say that in my 62 years, I have never taken a drink of alcohol ...
"You can't go anywhere in Lexington, Nicholasville or Danville to get a decent meal without someone sitting down beside you with a drink, and it doesn't bother me."
Simpson said, "It will certainly be a different Garrard County," and that he hopes the development would not fall on the taxpayers' back to support.
Wilson said the county government runs on occupational tax, but the largest employer has less than 100 people.
"The sheriff's department budget has been a discussion lately, their vehicles are held together by duct tape. If this park came here, it would be our largest employer," Wilson said.
Lane asked Sheriff Ronnie Wardrip what he thought of the plan.
"It's a great idea. I've always said the only way Garrard County will make any money is to go wet ... no nice restaurants will move into the area unless we do," Wardrip said.
"Maybe it's Garrard County's time," Czerwonka said. "Let go a little bit and grow this community, and do it in an orderly fashion."
Resident Harlan Bratton favors limited alcohol sales. "I think it's one of the greatest things that's ever come our way," he said.
"I eat in places that serve alcohol in Lexington, and I don't drink, but I sit right down with them. It would be a boost for Garrard County, and drinking is not that sinful, and I go to church three times a week.
"It will save lives, and keep people from traveling, keep them right here in the county somewhere they can drink with their meal and be safe. We can't deny the community anymore."
Lancaster Mayor Don Rinthen said alcohol sales would help the local economy.
"For economic reasons, alcohol is a necessity in today's society for economic growth. Whether you do or don't drink, it's needed for growth."