The Harrison County Fiscal Court held discussions on the proposed changes to the Oddville Avenue park plan Tuesday night.
Bill Esray, of Wee Landscape Architecture, made a presentation detailing the redesign of the hilltop portion of the park commissioned by the Handy House Committee.
Wee's design leaves all the master plan elements intact but spares the house and barns. This is achieved by slightly moving the pool, a playground and the recreation center.
"We've got a solution tonight," Esray said. "I'm not here to shove that solution down your throats."
Esray said it was the goal to have the least possible impact on the park plan in the redesign. To that end, he said it was successful.
He noted no elements were lost, the plan doesn't require demolition and the redesign created what he called "some nice spaces" which he said could be used for weddings or events.
"I'm not telling you this is a perfect plan," he said. "What I am telling you is everything can be done without tearing the house down."
District 7 Magistrate Dwayne Florence asked if the portion of the park that contains the house and barns - along with travel easements - could be deeded to the committee so it could be responsible for the rehabilitation and upkeep.
"Wouldn't that solve the problem" he asked. "That way we don't have to worry about it anymore."
Harrison County Attorney Bill Kuster said if the committee became incorporated - which it currently isn't - such an action would be legal.
Florence pointed out that the previous court didn't have a problem deeding several acres of the park to the health department for its new facility.
"It wasn't so valuable that they couldn't get rid of that," he said.
District 5 Magistrate Jeff Brunker asked if there was a time frame for rehabilitation and how ADA compliance would affect its historic status.
Donna Neary, executive director of the state historic preservation office, spoke to Brunker's questions.
She explained that there are two scenarios which can play out on historic properties.
If the house was being looked at for restoration - such as a museum like the Mount Vernon homestead in Virginia, then the historic aspects would play a more important role.
However, since the committee wants to rehabilitate the house for public use, then ADA requirements such as wheelchair ramps and handicap-accessible rest rooms could be installed without compromising it's listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
"There are ways to fit modern lifestyles in these sort of buildings which have been very successful around the state," she said.
District 8 Magistrate Bradley Copes asked committee member Billy Fowler whether there is a time line in place for the rehab.
Fowler said since the house's fate has been in limbo, the committee has not laid out a plan yet.
"The sooner we can get started, the sooner we can get ready," he said, noting that the first phase could be complete in a few years.
Fowler noted that the committee has had several crafts people and artisans volunteer their skills toward the effort.
District 6 Magistrate William Fritz asked about the fate of the barns.
Fowler said the idea has been discussed to have a farm machinery museum on them, but the committee's main concern is to work on the house.
District 4 Magistrate Jerry Dawson asked if underground rocks could make moving the pool and recreation center more expensive.
He said he thought the pool was placed in its current location in the plan because of such rocks.
Harrison County Judge-Executive Alex Barnett said he has heard concerns that if the house is spared, the park will be developed around it and the house will sit unchanged.
Fowler said if the property was deeded to the committee, then the contract could possibly stipulate a time line for rehab. He suggested if the time line is not met, the property would revert back to the city and county.
Florence said that if the county didn't have to worry about the house and barns, the committee could move faster on rehab than the county could on building a pool and recreation center.
District 2 Magistrate Steve Moses pointed out that the committee would have to provide infrastructure - sewer and water lines - for the house should it be rehabilitated.
"There's no sewage system on top of that hill," he said. "You all are going to have to build all the infrastructure up there."
Moses also pointed that the Wee plan has the recreation center sitting under a five-phase power line.
In a Wednesday morning e-mail, Fowler said after the meeting, he reviewed the plan with Esray and they determined the lines would not cross over the proposed building site.
Florence said the only reason people want to raze the house is because they believe the pool can't be built unless the house goes.
"It has nothing to do with whether that house looks good, looks bad or whatever," he said.
Since the whole property is on the registry listing, any development using federal funds would have to pass review, regardless of who owns the house and barns.
At the end of the presentation, Fowler turned in a petition containing more that 1,800 signatures calling for the house to be saved.
"This is without ever going door-to-door campaigning," he said. "There are people other than us that are interested in saving this house."
In other action, the court:
• Approved spraying 175 miles of county roads for brush removal at a cost of $20,300.
• Agreed to lease two Mack trucks for the road department.
• Heard a presentation from Community Employment Opportunities' director Cindy Barnes. Her presentation followed one last week by senior citizens center director Pam Huff. They were asked to speak to clear up questions magistrates had about budget requests.
• Voted to execute a memorandum of agreement with the state board of elections to allow more time for the purchase of new voting equipment.
• Accepted the Cynthiana-Harrison County Health Department's budget for fiscal year 2008-2009.
• Noted that Ky. 1298 has been changed from a rural secondary road to a supplemental road.
• Approved first reading of an ordinance making a zoning classification amendment to Fat Boy's Place on U.S. 27 North. The amendment will allow the business' owner, Richard Hutchison, to make various improvements to the property.