Asked why, he said, "I don’t feel that Andrew and Joey have operated on a straight level with me the entire time. I'm disappointed in this bank decision. I don't think that’s the way to ingratiate themselves with the community." Vandegrift said he also had not heard about Hopewell's offer to help create the planned park on the creek.
When WesBanco announced its plans to close the branch and indicated it would impose a deed restriction on the property, Vandegrift openly discussed buying the building for City Hall if it could recruit another bank to occupy the current City Hall. Asked if he thought Hopewell was trying to gain leverage on that score, he said, "It didn’t occur to me, but I don’t do business that way."
As a parting shot to Hopewell and Svec in the interview, Vandegrift said, "They perhaps should spend more time in this community, and I don't think doing a couple weeks' public-relations tour is enough to get to know this community."
Earlier Friday, Svec said in a joint interview with Hopewell, which they solicited, "We've been listening to the community since May." That's when the resort got a conditional-use permit from the Woodford County Board of Adjustment to operate a "tourism destination expanded" in an agricultural zone.
Asked why he signed a contract to buy the bank property, Hopewell said he was "approached as an investment opportunity" by "a government official in Woodford County," whom he would not name. He said the building has many possible uses, including a tourism center for the county.
He said he didn't know of the city's interest in the tract, which the Messenger reported at the time. He said he signed the contract in late spring or early summer; Svec said he didn't think it was that early.
Hopewell said the first two phases of the resort would cost $35 million to $40 million, He declined to reveal other investors. "There are some family members, but then we have some large backing as well," from inside and outside Kentucky, he said. "But I maintain full control of the company."
Graddy, Hopewell's attorney, has argued that an RV resort is the best use of the property at this point, because if the council does not annex it and provide sewer service, the next logical use of it would be light industrial, like Midway Station across Georgetown Road from the property. Hopewell said the industrial park generates three times the traffic that the resort would.
If he can't win City Council approval, Hopewell said, he would sell the property to someone else or develop it in another way. But he and Svec said they are committed to the project.
Svec and Hopewell said they have met individually with three council members: Nance, Thurman and Steve Simoff, who didn't join in Monday's meeting. Council Member Sara Hicks has said she would deal with them only in public, and they said they have not gotten a response from Mary Raglin or Kaye Nita Gallagher. They said Graddy and Joe Childers of Lexington, attorney for citizens who oppose the project, have not had the meeting that the lawyers said they would have.
Svec said he thought he and Hopewell were able to satisfy the three members' concern about traffic and the size of the resort, which would be one of the largest in the Eastern United States. "It was well received that these are guests in Midway" who would not stay long-term, Svec said.
The resort's permit limits stays to six months, but "I don't anticipate people staying six months," Hopewell said. "It's just not in the business model" for a luxury resort for RVs that cost $500,000. Svec said most long-term guests "would be 30 days. You will have a few that will stay for two or three months because... they want to stay for a season."
Asked how they could prevent someone from staying six months and immediately returning, Svec said, "That's something operationally we're going to have to figure out." He said such resorts are communities in which guests look out for each other's interests and call out bad behavior.
A community forum on the resort plan is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 14 at Midway University. Vandegrift has said he plans to put the issue on the agenda for the council's next meeting, at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 18.