“I really don’t understand why they cannot see what benefits this project would create,” said a frustrated Zick who is beginning to think the project itself is becoming political fodder.
Zick told the N-D&L he has been straight with the public and the council from the start.
“I wasn’t trying to hide anything and I have been up front with my intentions fore the pond from the get go,” said Zick.
Zick said when he had to find dirt to backfill the new park going in on Armory Drive he realized by taking the soil from the park it would create a hole. He said he thought right away the hole could be used for a retention basin and if it held water could also be used for an annual fishing tournament for the community’s kids.
“Larger cities throughout the state including Lexington are starting to receive extensive fines for storm water runoff getting into the waterways. It won’t be long before the smaller cities like Russellville will be looked at by the state as well. By utilizing this hole for a retention basin it will show the state that not only does Russellville have a plan but that we are progressive in our thinking,” said Zick.
The dirt was removed from Memorial Park early in 2008. In April of that same year, the project came to a halt after council members found out Zick’s plans for a pond expressing concerns over safety and funds to complete the project. Zick said previous council member Chuck Phillips came to him on behalf of the whole council asking him to stop the project.
“The reason the hole has sat there for so long is because my hands were tied,” said Zick. “I didn’t want to give up on the project, but there was nothing I could do.”
According to the mayor, a councilman contacted the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) about the project and was sent a letter saying no money could be spent that wasn’t budgeted.
“I haven’t spent any money from the general fund for the project it has all come fro the Rockwell monies because of the backfill I needed,” said Zick. “After speaking to the state EPA and the NCRS I was very positive about the project because I was being told at the state level that it was a good one. I was told we were leading the way and it was impressive that we were doing it with the little funds we had. When you have the state telling you that you have a good idea you get excited about bringing it to the community. This wasn’t supposed to be a controversial issue and that is why I stopped the project when they asked me because I didn’t want it to become another Electric Plant Board fiasco.”
Zick says Russellville has a positive reputation in Frankfort now. He said it hasn’t always been that way and feels a lot of the reason is because of progressive and forward thinking.
“You say Russellville at the state level and they talk very positively. It isn’t like the days of the worms in the water, we have passed that. I want to continue to move forward with the city and show the state that we are not stagnant any longer. The pond issue is such a small fish to fry and we don’t want to back step and bicker over trivial issues,” said Zick who will continue to speak to the federal EPA and and Corps of Engineers about what can be done.
According to a majority council decision, Zick has 45 days to fill in the hole.