Front Page History: Search for perfect park location prompts condemnation from city 22 years ago

Published 6:39 pm Monday, March 25, 2019

22 years ago, the City of Danville seemed to be desperately searching for the perfect site to build a new park on and was willing to condemn land in order to obtain what it wanted.

The commission indicated it was prepared to condemn a property, and in a front page story on March 26, 1997, it was reported that the Danville City Commission voted unanimously to authorize City Attorney Ed Hayes to draft a letter to start the condemnation process on 168 acres of the Georgeanne Sigwald property on Perryville Road, which did eventually become today’s Millennium Park.

According to the story, that piece of property had always been the first choice for a multi-purpose park, but a sale price was never agreed on. According to the story, the city and county had made an offer in 1992, but it was never accepted. So, the governments looked at 35 other sites, but never found anything as desirable as the Sigwald property.

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Then in 1994, Christian Children’s Home announced it was going to try and purchase the same tract of land and had plans to sell off part of it to Centre College, Centenary United Methodist Church and Danville and Boyle county for their park. The Children’s Home also wanted to keep some of the property for its campus and was looking at housing for the elderly on property next to Lannock.

The article stated during those negotiations, the stated price was $7,000 an acre.

The condemnation process involved having the city attorney file a petition in Circuit Court, then the court would appoint two city commissioners to appraise the property and set a price.

Anyone who objected to the condemnation would be allowed to file their complaints in the court record, the article read. Also, either the city or Sigwald could object to the appraised value.

A jury trial would then be held to determine the value.

During the Jan. 28 meeting, the commission voted to try and negotiate the sale price of the property again. However, if negotiations to buy the property failed again, the city could proceed with the condemnation process. City Manager Edward Music said state law gives a city the authority to condemn land for use as a park.

This story also mentioned how Boyle County Fiscal Court was aware of the city’s actions, “but at this point has not become involved in the process,” of acquiring the land for the park.

City Commissioner Nancy Caudill said the city was prepared to proceed on its own. “We are not counting on their participation, but we hope that they do,” Caudill said.

According to the story, several magistrates said they are interested in the city’s proposal but needed more information before committing to the plan.

Boyle County Judge-Executive Tony Wilder said, “I think they settled on the best place. … We’ve tried very hard to find a place.”

According to the story, when the city and county started looking for park land in 1992, the Sigwald tract was “identified as the ideal location because it was next to the Boyle County Fairgrounds and Boyle County High School, near the bypass and relatively level.”