The Frankfort City Commission passed a multifaceted motion for work at Fort Hill but not before some spirited discussion Monday evening.
Fort Hill was the last item on the agenda, and the item consisted of four parts — filing a request with the University of Kentucky’s State Office of Archaeology for digital copies from Fort Hill and other parks in Franklin County; requesting appropriate fencing around all archaeological sites at Fort Hill except for Military Road, which has been deemed appropriate for public use and foot traffic; consulting the Kentucky Heritage Council on developing a policy about the mowing and aesthetic maintenance of the archaeological sites; and the removal of discarded railing at the end of Military Road.
Commissioner John Sower reported the discarded railing had already been removed.
Commissioner Katrisha Waldridge questioned the four items being listed as one motion.
“My understanding with reading this is that he put all these numbers under one motion,” she said. “If we’re going to move them they need to broken down because I don’t agree with it being one complete motion. I know it’s dealing with Fort Hill, but it’s listed as different.
“I agree with starting the UK digital copies, but I don’t agree with the fencing portion at this time.”
Mayor Bill May said the four items were originally listed separately, but staff requested they be combined for ease of discussion.
Waldridge also stated the first agenda she received didn’t have the motion, but Sower said that he sent out the four items last week, that City Manager Keith Parker responded to Sower, and Sower sent his responses back.
“It didn’t affect any element of the four items you received last week,” Sower told Waldridge, adding he sent the responses to both her personal and city email accounts.
“Spending money right now on a fence, I think, is frivolous, even though I do agree with fence at some time,” Waldridge said.
“I do agree with doing the research as we’ve had archaeologists come and speak, who I appreciate. Do we even know what the labor cost would be for that? An estimate?”
Commissioner Scott Tippett said cost would be minimal.
“All we’re trying to do is clean it up at minimal cost and identify and protect things truly historically significant,” he said. “That’s all we’re asking. It is a minimal cost.”
Sower said the costs didn’t have to come from the city’s general fund or the Parks Department general fund.
He brought up the Crown Castle Tower rental lease agreement, dated Nov. 25, 1991, that says rent payable under the lease agreement shall be paid into a special account, the Leslie W. Morris Park account, and such funds be expended by the lessor for the sole purpose of maintaining and improving Leslie W. Morris Park, which contains Fort Hill, site of a Civil War skirmish.
The account has $77,000, and Sower said the commissioners should look at that amount and that it could be used for signage and fencing Fort Hill.
“When we say minimum cost I’m sure there’s going to be some minimum costs in labor or pulling things,” Waldridge said. “I completely understand that. We don’t move things by minimum cost. Everything else they want down to the right cent, everything else, and that’s what I expect for this.
"I want to know what that expense is going to be, not only if it’s city money, if it’s another pot, $77,000, the city has a right to know where every cent is going in that budget as well.”
Waldridge was the lone dissenting vote on the motion.
Fort Hill has been a topic of intense debate on the commission since a vote last year to ban bicycles on trails in Leslie Morris Park.
In other action Monday:
• Dan Liebman and Melissa Parker were appointed to the Tourist and Convention Commission, with terms through June 30, 2023.
• The commissioners voted to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Bourbon on the Banks Festival which in-kind contributions from the city. The festival has been postponed from August to October.
• A sign for Western Hills graduate and 2018 Mr. Football Wan'Dale Robinson has been made, and plans are being made for an unveiling when Robinson, a sophomore on the University of Nebraska football team, and his family can be present.
• The commissioners voted to approve updates to Capitol View Park, including lighting at the fields at Sower Soccer Complex and sewer upgrades.