Boyle discusses options for Millennium Park access

Published 8:08 pm Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Boyle County Fiscal Court is now reviewing the last court’s decision to lock the gate at Whites Park after a recent incident during which people were blocked from entering or exiting Millennium Park. 

The former fiscal court made the decision to put the gate, which separates the parks, under lock and key due to complaints about speeders. The road has traditionally been used as a cut-through, offering a rear entrance and exit into Millennium, off of the U.S. 127 Bypass, just next to the fairgrounds. 

Last week, Danville-Boyle County Parks & Recreation Director John Bell told the court the incident happened one afternoon a few weeks back, during the paving process along Perryville Road. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 7 “decided to close both sides of the entrance-exit into Millennium Park at the tame time.” He said the park was not the only place blocked. 

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“We had all the construction traffic coming from the middle school, all the patrons and staff coming from Millennium Park, the individuals that work at the children’s services home, the individuals who were at the kidney center — nobody could get in or out … for approximately 48 minutes.” 

Bell said obviously, this caused some concerns; the police department and sheriff’s office began getting phone calls. “Everybody was looking for answers, we had none.” He said Duane Campbell, county engineer, “was totally caught off guard — we all were. Nobody knew that they were going to be here that day …” and due to law enforcement not being made aware, there was no flagging. “It led to a few irritated — to put it nicely — individuals.” 

“You guys shouldn’t have been caught off guard because for eight months, I’ve been saying we need a second entrance and a second exit because of incidents like this,” Magistrate Jason Cullen said, sternly. “We’ve been saying that for a while, that we need to do something, and that road in Whites Park may not be the answer …” 

Bell said Campbell dropped what he was doing and “came over to unlock the infamous gate, so the staff could get in and out, and the public. We had the public driving around at the park, trying to figure out how they could get out …” 

Cullen said, “They can just run through the gate.” 

“Yeah, that was discussed …” Bell said. 

Caywood said, “The previous court was way out there with lock it, don’t unlock it … there’s got to be some middle ground.” He had been under the impression that “certain people” had keys and could get through if something like this came up. 

He then added, “which I don’t really know why we own Whites Park. I question that.” 

Treasurer Mary Conley said the park was obtained due to a land grant, from back in the ‘70s. 

“We’ve owned it for many years, Mr. Caywood,” Magistrate Phil Sammons said. 

Caywood said the park isn’t used “very well” and he figures the court could find some other ways to make it more valuable for the people. 

Conley said the requirements for changing the property’s purpose should be researched by the court first. 

Magistrate Tom Ellis said, “I think I have a simple solution. A key in  … three people’s pockets won’t work. But a combination lock — known by people who need to know, police, fire protection and Parks & Rec folks — a combination lock would do the trick. Right there, it’s that simple.” 

“Yeah, there you go,” Cullen said. 

Bell said, “I strongly disagree.” Parks & Rec is currently in the process of rekeying 88 locks within the system “because the keys are out there. The process of getting a key to a lock is a whole lot harder than getting the combination to a lock.” He said the combination will be shared immediately, “and all the sudden, that lock’s not there anymore. You’ll be replacing that lock daily. The reason we’re changing them is because of the distribution of keys …” 

Cullen said the reason there was no key is because that lock has been cut by vandals and replaced to many times. “That’s why the key debacle happened.” 

He said he and Magistrate Sammons spoke with Campbell about an idea and have “floated it among others. But what we really need to look at is creating an access road along the back side there. It can go right up against the animal shelter and drop right down …” 

Judge-Executive Howard Hunt said he’d like the fiscal court committee for Parks & Rec to work with Bell to “work these actions out.” 

“I’m chairman of that committee, judge; we’ll take full control,” Sammons said. 

As more discussion was held about Whites Park in general, Caywood said perhaps the park needs to be incorporated into Millennium so that it can be made useful with programming. 

“I think Mr. White, who was a judge … I think he would be very pleased if it was being used as a part of the active park system,” Caywood said. 

“I would encourage you to work with the city a little bit more and see their plans for the fairgrounds, because I believe Whites Park might be essential to them. Before we put too much time into this, let’s see their desires,” Cullen said. “I think they’ll need it to have their aquatic center, or whatever they’re going to do over there.”