Here’s why fighting over parks & rec in Boyle might be a good thing

Published 8:43 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

They say history repeats itself, and while we’re not sure who “they” is, they seem to be onto something. We’re hoping history is repeating itself with parks and recreation in Danville and Boyle County.

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We ran a story this week about the fight between the county and city over funding for Millennium Park. County officials accused city officials of trying to railroad them into spending money on a parks effort they suspected would mostly benefit city residents.

“Most people I’ve talked with are overwhelmingly against the … regional park plan, but most favored certain elements of it,” the judge-executive said.

One magistrate was highly critical of the idea of a public pool and warned that the public didn’t want to see higher taxes.

The fiscal court rejected a parks plan from Danville, which meant both parties were going back to the drawing board.

But the story we ran wasn’t about what happened this week, or last week, or last month, or last year. It was one of our “Front Page History” articles about the news as it was reported in 1992.

You could almost swap the names out of that 27-year-old reporting for today’s city and county officials and have a nearly accurate telling of the current ongoing arguments over parks and recreation.

Obviously, Danville and Boyle County have been fighting with each other for decades and we shouldn’t hope for that to end anytime soon. But there’s a more positive message here: Danville and Boyle County have been trying to get along and build great things through cooperation for decades, too.

The end result of what seemed to be irreconcilable differences in 1992? Millennium Park — the jointly owned, jointly funded gem in the local parks system that has essentially unanimous support from city and county officials and the public today.

If Millennium Park could emerge as the pearl from the oyster of Danville and Boyle County’s bickering in the 1990s, then just imagine what today’s strained efforts at partnership could produce.

It’s easy to be cynical or jaded when you look back and see history repeating itself, but cynicism isn’t actually the right response. You have to remember that where we are now is a result of history repeating itself, and where we are now is a pretty good setup.

We’ll always hope for a friendlier, less political relationship between Danville and Boyle County, but we probably won’t get it. And that may be a good thing — if history is any evidence, contentious cooperation is perhaps the best way to move forward.