Rather than move forward with a scaled down version of a new park near the Fayette County Justice Center, the county commission has decided to put the entire project on ice and instead devote budgeted funds toward renovating the fountain at Heritage Park near the county administrative buildings.
In its first March meeting, commissioners Pota Coston, David Barlow, and chairman Charles Oddo were hesitant to spend the $125,000 budgeted toward establishing a park in the wooded area between the justice center and Fayette Senior Services. The plans called for a trail system, picnic area with a pavilion, and a large garden that could have served as a community garden, according to commissioner Steve Brown, who was involved in the committee that developed the park concept.
Commissioner Coston, who has been working with her constituents in North Fayette County on potential improvements to Kenwood Park on Highway 279, said she felt the money could be better spent on maintaining and improving existing amenities like Kenwood Park. Oddo and Barlow were each both concerned that the cost of the justice center park concept, which included potential future phases that would have pushed the bill over $300,000 if completed, were too great.
It was decided at that meeting that the project should be scaled back to include only the proposed trail system, at a predicted cost around $20,000.
Brown said last week, however, that a meeting of the Justice Center Park Committee led to the conclusion that going forward with any aspect of the plan made less sense without all of the elements that had been conceived.
“Because of the reduced scope [the committee] felt the park wasn’t really meeting its original intent and asked that all the money be shifted over to another project,” Brown said.
As an alternative, the suggestion was made to direct the $125,000 budgeted for the Justice Center Park toward a renovation of the fountain at Heritage Park. Brown said that the fountain had been a frequent topic of discussion for the Public Art Committee, but the money available to that committee to invest in such a project fell far short of what would be needed to give the fountain a proper face lift.
Brown noted the fountain has deteriorated over time and the granite rim running around it has broken in several places.
“We even had a large piece come down with a person standing on it, so it’s a legitimate hazard,” Brown said. He also noted that the pump originally installed was not large enough to provide the water pressure needed for the size of the fountain.
It was suggested that a sculpture of some kind could be added to the center of the fountain that would complement the water feature, Brown said. This would potentially end the tradition of Fayetteville’s Christmas tree being set on the fountain during Christmas time.
Fayetteville Mayor Greg Clifton, present at Thursday’s meeting, commented that the city had already made plans to move the tree to the courthouse lawn across the street and host Christmas festivities there rather than at the county complex.
Chairman Oddo said he would prefer to see the tree remain at the fountain as it has become “tradition.”
The Art Committee’s fund for the project totaled around $32,000 to which the county will add the $125,000 budgeted for the Justice Center Park, making $157,000 available for the fountain project.