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The Paris City Council tonight will revisit a $100,000 contribution from Dr. Richard Swint and his wife, Susan, “for restoration of Lake Crook Park.”
Mayor AJ Hashmi said since the council happily received the donation during the Citizens Forum on Jan. 13 it has become evident there are some strings attached to the donation that the council may not be willing to accept.
The Swints have attached restrictions that would torpedo the council’s hopes of attracting tens of millions in outside development of Lake Crook and surrounding city-owned land, perhaps as a theme park along the lines of Disney Land or Disney World.
“The council has to decide whether to accept Dr. Swint’s concept of Lake Crook instead of the plans we have been discussing for the past year or so,” Hashmi said Sunday.
Hashmi said it was his impression at the time that the Swints offered their donation that they were talking about development of a recreational tract as contained in Lake Crook planning documents designed in recent months by city planner Alan Efrussy.
After the council accepted the Swints’ donation, Hashmi announced he would donate $10,000 himself toward development of Lake Crook. His donation contains no such restrictions on what development it could be used on, Hashmi said.
At the council’s direction, Efrussy has been developing a plan of development that would include apartments, homes, and wide-ranging development to make Paris a destination of tourists.
The Swints vigorously oppose such a concept. Rather, they want a quiet lake, for use by city residents and their children, with perhaps construction of lodges that could be rented for weekend use by visitors. That was the idea when the lake was established 100 years ago, and that concept should not be tampered with, they say.
In a 1-1/2 page letter to the mayor dated Dec. 31 disclosing their donation, the Swints said it was ”to start a fund for restoration of Lake Crook Park.”
The donation, the Swints said in that letter, “comes with the requirement that the city of Paris undertake the restoration without hiring any consultants, planners, or architects for the park in general.”
They said in the letter: “All facilities should be owned by Paris. Perhaps some, like a restaurant pavilion, could be managed by a contractor.”
In an advertisement in Sunday’s edition of The Paris News, Swint criticized any plans by the city to develop Lake Crook as a resort area.
“The current city manager and city planner do not have the same vested interest and heritage in Paris as long-term residents. Perhaps they do not have a long-term future vested in Paris,” Swint said.
“Plans have been drawn to sell most of the useful park land we have inherited. The council has approved selling and given first order of Zone 1 to be sold. The term ‘resort area’ designating Zone 1 did not communicate to most people ‘sell the park.’ “
Hashmi said although there definitely is interest in aggressively marketing both Lake Crook and Cox Field Airport for economic development, there is no intention by the council to sell city-owned land at either.
Rather, he said, the city would offer long-term leases.
In the Swints’ letter to Hashmi, they said possible developments at Lake Crook should be limited to:
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra