Last Tuesday city council stopped construction plans on the $1.5 million park with a five to one vote (councilman Russell Jones voted no). Councilman Lanny McPherson made the motion to stop the park’s construction after saying he thought it was the “wrong time” to build the park. He said even though he thought the park was a good idea he was concerned about how much money it may take to build it and how much it may take to maintain it once it is built. He and councilman Jimmy Davenport were both very vocal about the economy and its effects on the city’s finances. They both were worried about beginning a project that might dip into the city’s already red ink.
The city of Russellville received $1.5 million from the state’s Energy and Environmental Protection Cabinet (EPPC) in 2007 taken from the multi-million dollar Rockwell International Corp. settlement. The money was earmarked to build the new park.
Zick, who has been adamant about building the park, assured the council that the park’s construction would not go over the allotted $1.5 million and it would only take $1,000 additional dollars to maintain it each year. Zick also told the council he was afraid if they put the park on hold the state would take back the $1.5 million and may even ask for the interest that has been drawing on the money as well as the $200,000 already spent to backfill the property located on Armory Drive.
Zick told the N-D&L Monday that he had spoken with Jon Horne, the attorney who is handling the state’s settlement with the EPPC and was told if the city of Russellville did not continue to work on and finish the Rockwell Recreational park project in a timely manner, they would have to return the $1.5 million dollars to the EPPC, which will include what has already been spent plus any interest accrued.
“I was afraid this was going to happen,” said Zick adding that Horne had told him the only delays that would be accepted would be due to weather or construction issues.
Zick said he hopes the council votes to continue the park project at Tuesday’s special called meeting and doesn’t allow the free money to be taken away.
Park plans show two state-of-the-art soccer and baseball diamonds, a skate-board park, climbing wall, trails, a wetland for educational study, restrooms, concession facilities, a playground and plenty of parking.