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Published 2:02 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2017

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Poor communication over potential dispatch split

Last week, Boyle County magistrates were given draft copies of an interlocal agreement with Lincoln and Garrard counties that would lead to Boyle County 911 calls being handled by the Bluegrass 911 dispatch center in Garrard County, instead of the Danville 911 center.

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Danville officials, meanwhile, are moving forward with their own plans by recently approving a budget amendment pulling funds out of reserve to pay for large-scale 911 center upgrades here. The transfer is needed, according to the city, because Boyle County is unwilling to hand over 911-earmarked funds that were planned to be spent on the upgrades.

The city and county both continue to take steps away from each other based on differing interpretations and opinions on numerous issues. Such a big disagreement will never be resolved — especially not in a way that keeps us safe with permanent, quality 911 service — until both sides are willing to put their egos aside and agree on a common set of facts.

Danville argues that Boyle County shouldn’t be receiving state 911 funds from cell-phone taxes; Boyle County believes it’s entirely appropriate. Danville says Boyle’s $700,000 reserve of 911-earmarked funds must be spent on the Danville dispatch center; Boyle County again seems to disagree (though notably not as vocally).

Boyle County says it owns the license that allows the Danville 911 center to operate and it has the right to merge that license with Bluegrass 911 in Garrard County, theoretically leaving Danville in the cold, in need of a new license; Danville says the opposite — that it owns and operates the 911 center and so Boyle cannot mess with the license.

Boyle says switching to Bluegrass 911 would save a lot of money; Danville questions the price quoted and says the proposed splitting of cost equally between three unequally-sized counties would be unconstitutional.

Boyle County says quality dispatch services can be provided from Garrard County for all the most distant reaches of Boyle County, as well as the urban core of Danville — if the city will come along on the merger; Danville says its emergency responders and citizens would be negatively impacted by having an urban area serviced by a rural call center.

Anywhere you look in this matter, there’s something the city and county disagree on. But it’s not that they’re having lengthy debates and still can’t reach a resolution; it’s that they each have their own perspective and are unwilling to even consider the other’s.

Before either side goes any further down the roads they are on, they ought to come back to the fork in the road and hash out the facts. Who owns the dispatch center license? Who gets to use the $700,000? Can the cost-savings be guaranteed? Is an even split of the costs constitutional? These are all huge questions and there are no authoritative answers on any of them.

These questions need to be answered before any decisions are made, not after. If, after we have the facts in hand, a split-up of 911 services is proven to be the best option for everyone, that’s fine.

But if our elected officials can’t or won’t resolve the facts before making a decision, they’re putting us all at risk.

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Weisiger water wall missing the mark

We’re not buying the argument from some Danville officials that the recently added water wall feature in Weisiger Park is there more for sound than appearance.

Local resident Ernie Moore complained to city commissioners last week that the water wall feature, one of the most heralded and anticipated features of the newly renovated park, couldn’t really be seen.

“I don’t know what we accomplished other than spending a lot of money to get that. And I don’t know if there is any way that that can be enhanced so that somebody can see it,” Moore said. “But right now, it’s worthless in my view.”

Moore’s complaint was rebuffed by City Engineer Earl Coffey and City Commissioner Denise Terry, who argued the falling water created a nice white noise for people in the park.

Coffey said the wall wasn’t designed to be “an elaborate visual” and that the sound from water wall is “a big piece of the enjoyment.”

“It sounds nice when you’re in the park, and I think that’s mostly the purpose of it,” Terry said.

But those arguments don’t mesh with explanations of what the water wall would be back when the city commission was planning the park renovations.

In February 2016, when the design for the water wall was approved, Charlie Schneider with architecture firm Brandstetter Carroll told city commissioners the water wall would be like “a waterfall” with “a little bit of sound and a lot of visual effects.”

Fellow Brandstetter Carroll employee Mark Hormon said the water wall would be “transformational” and would “make this a really happening place downtown.”

But despite coverage of the installation and unveiling of the water wall in The Advocate-Messenger, the water feature has hardly garnered much attention from the public. Many still don’t realize it’s there.

At this point, it’s fairly obvious that the water wall has missed the mark set for it at the beginning. Pretending that it’s always been about the sound feels like a bait-and-switch; taxpayers don’t like it when you move the goalposts.

Like Moore, we’re not sure what can be done to turn the lackluster falls into a truly eye-catching feature of the park. But we agree with Commissioner J.H. Atkins’ position that what we have now is not what we thought we were getting.

“It’s not what I voted for,” Atkins said. “… I voted for it because I wanted to see it as well as hear it. I’m still waiting for that to happen, and I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen.”