Boyle looks to take over Constitution Square

June 11, 2011|By DAVID┬┐BROCK |

Boyle County may soon take over the site where the state's constitution was drafted in 1792.

Boyle Judge-Executive Harold McKinney said Friday representatives from the state Parks Department have inquired about transferring Constitution Square State Historic Site, including the buildings in the park, to the county.

"We are looking into the details under which the county would be required to do in terms of upkeep, maintenance and things of that nature," McKinney said. "We want to make sure that it is not a financial burden, but instead is a boon for the local economy. We definitely think it can be."

McKinney, who has informed magistrates of the possible acquisition, said if the county does take over the park it would be for a small or marginal amount of money. A timeline for the transfer is not certain because of the numerous levels of state and local approval that must be given for such a transfer, but McKinney said it could be complete before the end of the first quarter of the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. 


McKinney said he envisions the park as self-sufficient, even a potential revenue maker for the county, that would also serve as an educational center for local students. He has also discussed the possibility of the row of buildings on one side of the property becoming permanent homes for the partner organizations in the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership. 

EDP president and CEO Jody Lassiter, who praised McKinney's leadership in pursuing the park, said the organization has big plans for locating all of the groups at Constitution Square. He said it would be "back to the future" for many of the agencies that were housed on the grounds in the past.

Lassiter said the Convention and Visitors Bureau would stay at Grayson's Tavern, which would continue as a visitors center. Heart of Danville and another local heritage tourism partner would go in the Goldsmith House and maintain the gift shop. 

EDP, the Boyle County Industrial Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce would occupy Fisher's Row. The Schoolhouse would be a primary conference center, which Lassiter said has many possible community uses and could serve as a guest house for business visitors. Watts-Bell House is being targeted for use as a second conference room on the first floor, and a possible small business "incubator" space on the second, Lassiter said.

"This move will allow our partners to achieve key items in our strategic plans," Lassiter wrote in an e-mail. "Heart of Danville will be within a block from Main Street. CVB's objective of a community common space will be achieved by making the Square our staging ground for community events. CVB will coordinate guided tours, particularly for student groups. Unlike our present location, Constitution Square will be a highly-recognizable, easily-accessible, and inviting first impression for our business prospects."

Terms of any lease agreements with the county haven't been worked out, but Lassiter said there should be a significant savings from the $21,300 the agencies currently pay for renting space.

One of the state's smallest parks, Constitution Square's three acres were donated to the state in 1937 by Emma Weisiger in memory of her brother, John G. Weisiger, according to the state parks website.

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