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To the Editor:

At the Nov. 5 Lebanon City Council meeting, the council voted unanimously to support mindless nonsense. 

Did you know city taxpayers must pay Goodall Homes approximately $600,000 in 2020 for a park on Cairo Bend Road in its 1,200-unit residential development as an amenity to help sell units?   

That the 16 acres will not be donated by Goodall until the city spends approximately $400,000 for a playground? That the acreage donation is valued at $175,000, the same amount as a sewer cost rebate by the city taxpayers to Goodall Homes?

Since 2017, the city council has spent approximately $600,000 for both a city park design on 15 acres not donated in Ward 6 and for consulting services regarding a future sportsplex near Highway 231 South. Another nearly $100,000 was spent for a playground across from Lebanon High School. There’s $700,000 that did not go to needed building of local ball fields or preservation of problematic acreage.

Currently, led by Ward 6 Councilor Jeni Brinkman, the council is driving the park project of a $400,000 playground and $125,000 for restrooms for a city park in Ward 6 on Cairo Bend Road. In 2017, the lowest bid for the construction of the park design headed by citizen Brinkman on 15 acres not donated by then-Councilor Rick Bell was north of $7 million. The projected cost of a sportsplex on a 100-plus acre tract near 231 South is $36 million. 

The herein exposed fiscal insanity and dysfunctional thinking regarding the future land preservation/ future city parks well-being of the city of Lebanon has been driven by: current City Councilors Fred Burton, Tick Bryan, Joey Carmack and Chris Crowell, and former Councilors Rick Bell & Rob Cesternino. That's the same group that initially sought in spring of 2018 to give $850,000 of local taxpayer money to Cumberland University. Then in June 2018, CU paid $1,875,000 to buy commercial property at 397 South Maple from former Mayor Philip Craighead.  

As Mayor Bernie Ash stated on Oct. 30 at a public meeting at city hall: those councilors locked the city into spending at least $1 million for a city park in Ward 6. Yet a built-out city park in Ward 6 (on 16 donated acres) is not among the current top priorities for preserving problematic (as flooding) acreage in the city. Such critical to preserve acreage is located in Wards 1, 2, 4 and 5, not in Ward 6. 

The 16 acres to be donated in Ward 6 by Goodall Homes for a city park adjacent to its high density residential development is acreage next to the rail tracks that is going to remain green space anyway. 

A built-out city park there should be put on hold until it becomes a city park funding priority. No one can successfully make the case that park is currently a top land preservation funding priority, or trumps funding future ball fields. So, what's up?

Derek Dodson


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