Pulaski residents oppose annexation of local park
PULASKI CO., Ky. (WKYT) – Monday evening, Burnside city leaders voted to annex about five acres of Pulaski County park.
The park is in Nancy, a dry community, meaning no alcohol is sold. But Monday night’s move will allow them to sell alcohol at the park and that has upset several residents who didn’t necessarily agree with the decision.
“We don’t have a voice,” explained Mary Lou Brown as she sat on a cold park bench at Pulaski County Park. Brown and several other like-minded Pulaski County residents met WKYT Investigates on a chilly spring day to talk about a piece of land that runs along Lake Cumberland.
“They just sneaked in like a thief in the night and we didn’t know until it was over,” she said.
Officials began pushing for the annexation after a promoter approached them months ago about holding concerts at Pulaski County Park. The concerts weren’t the issue; the promoter wanted vendors to be able to sell alcohol during the events.
“Anything along the shoreline, if it runs from Burnside to Nancy, it’s not safe,” Brown said. “You could be annexed at any time. That’s the kind of feeling that we have right now.”
Burnside, which allows the sell of alcohol, is about 12 miles from Nancy. The two communities are not neighbors. However, state law allows Burnside to annex a part of the park by following Lake Cumberland’s shoreline to Nancy.
Pulaski County Judge Executive Steve Kelley, who was contacted by the concert promoter, said he understands where Nancy residents are coming from, but said much of the concern has been blown out of proportion. Kelley said only a portion, about five acres of the 800 acre park, would be annexed. Alcohol would be not be allowed at the park, except with a special event license.
“I think if you can’t grow tourism on your lake, at your park, where can you? Where can you grow tourism,” he asked.
Kelley said he would not release the promoter’s name until negotiations have started. But if the concerts were to happen, they would take place each month during the summer.
Kelley said the potential payoffs for the local economy would be around $1.4 million. This comes at a time when the county is still digging out from the devastating financial hole caused by the drop in the lake level from 2007 to 2013.
“You’ve got a diamond in the rough with Pulaski County Park,” Kelley said. “It’s the most beautiful, one of the most beautiful places on the lake, and it’s just being under-utilized.”
“They use the word annexation but annexation is just a nice word for takeover, and that’s what we feel like this is — a takeover,” said Brown. Brown’s group said they will be pursuing legal action.
The mayor of Burnside said the next step is for the Corps of Engineers, the entity that owns the park, to send a letter in support of the annexation. The mayor said this annexation will open up the opportunity for the county government to negotiate with the entertainment company. Burnside would collect an Alcohol Beverage Control administration fee and a tourism fee for food, according to Burnside’s mayor.
By: Miranda Combs – Email
WKYT, Lexington, KY