Woo Hoo! The new and improved fence around Carson Park is up and looking proud. 🤠 Below is a letter I wrote pontificating about the future of Carson Park and potential benefits and/or cost savings which may result from combining the Carson Park operations with the Convention Center operations. To be honest, the letter is not that interesting 🥱 but thinking about how to create a better Carson Park is a bit of an obsession with me. At the end of this post is a numbered list of ideas/thoughts. Feel free to call an idea “worthy” or “not so worthy”. (Be gentle 😏)
Hon. Judge Executive Craig Clymer
300 Clarence Gaines Street
Paducah, KY 42003
Mark Whitlow, Chairman
Paducah McCracken County Convention Center Board
415 Park Street Paducah, KY 42001
RE: Potential Synergy Between Carson Park and Paducah McCracken County Convention Center
The purpose of this correspondence is to start a moment of public pontification about whether there is any potential synergy between the operations of Carson Park and the Paducah McCracken County Convention Center (“Convention Center”).
Both Carson Park and the Convention Center involve scheduling, maintenance, landscaping, entertainment, and concessions. Only two (2) miles separate the two (2) facilities. Ironically, the Carson Park venue is more suitable for entertainment operation during pandemics.😷 I suspect there are some duplicate expenses which could be eliminated or mitigated by combining the two (2) operations.
The deed restrictions related to Carson Park are as follows:
1. The “property is to be known as Luther Carson Park.”
2. The “property is to be used for a fair grounds for holding county fairs, exhibits of livestock, and farm products.”
3. The “property is to be used for the training, exercising, exhibiting and racing of light breeds of horses and ponies.”
4. The “property is to be used for horse shows.”
These “expressed uses” are not necessarily the exclusive uses of Carson Park. Carson Park can be used for many other public purposes provided the expressed purposes are not interrupted continuously for a period of two (2) years. Should such an event happen, the donors have requested that the property be vested in the “Friendly Home of Paducah.” In 1972, “The Home of the Friendless of Paducah, Kentucky” closed. As part of the closing process, “The Home of the Friendless of Paducah, Kentucky” quitclaimed its interest to Easter Seals.
It is notable that the deed does not require a horse stable. However, I believe having a select number of quality stables in Carson Park is a public benefit and further adds to its charm.
Of particular interest is the potential application of KRS 91A.392 to Carson Park. KRS 91A.392 allows the county government (not the City) to levy an additional two percent (2%) transient room tax under certain conditions. The conditions which much be in place in order for the County to levy the additional two percent (2%) tax include:
“Bond debt” issued pursuant to KRS 91A.390(8) “to finance in part the expansion or construction or operation of [either]:
[1.] a governmental or non-profit convention center or
[2.] [a] fine arts center useful to promotion and tourism located in the central business district” of the county.
It seems to me that if the Convention Center expands its operations to include Carson Park through a lease, then the two percent (2%) additional tax could be used to finance the expansion, construction, or operation of improvements to Carson Park.
In the next few years, the County will develop more capacity with regard to the two percent (2%) additional transient room tax. In normal years, the two percent (2%) additional transient room tax generates approximately $600,000.00 per year. Presently, the balance of debt serviced by the two percent (2%) additional transient room tax is $6,000,000.00. I think among the topics which could be discussed as a target for such investment funds could include the expansion of the Convention Center operation into Carson Park. This would also be an excellent opportunity to solidify the permanent relationship between the Convention Center and the County’s one percent (1%) transient room tax for the County’s designated Convention Center. (With humor, the other shoe drops with the subtle appearance of a “hammer clause”). 😏
Attached is an attempt to place potential ideas for Carson Park development on paper. It is just a collection of imperfect or even stupid ideas.
Let me be clear about “present spending.” Now is absolutely the wrong time to spend more money. However, within the next four (4) to eight (8) years, we will establish significantly more available equity/capacity with this revenue source. Some of that equity will be needed for maintenance of existing assets, but I believe there is a lawful manner to include Carson Park development into the plans for this future equity.
I hope this letter is the beginning of a longer conversation. I believe Carson Park has tremendous potential!
Please contact me with your questions.
Edwin A. Jones
Enclosures: Carson Park Source Deed
Brainstorming List of Imperfect Ideas
Carson Park Brainstorming List
(Warning – This list includes a few imperfect or even stupid ideas)
- Better restrooms and additional water/sewer connections allowing the use of the portable/trailer restrooms
- Permanent small staging in various locations and/or concrete pads and underground wiring for larger mobile stages. (See bryantpark.org)
- A smaller scale mimic to the Grant’s Farm design which is located in St. Louis, Missouri. (See www.grantsfarm.com)
- Farmer’s Market Structure (Later this month, we will be experimenting with mid-week Farmer’s Market activity at Carson Park)
- Bill Black Style butterfly gardens (Clark Elementary already has one of these gardens)
- Infrastructure for seasonal petting zoo of young furry things.
- A park rooster (Fog Horn Leg Horn was my favorite 😎)
- A park mustang
- Food truck locations
- Sitting areas with tables
- A small country church with cool country steeple
- A park like designed patio area suitable for prom or wedding type events (near the country church)
- Connecting paths suitable for walking, running, biking, and motorized wheel chairs.
- High quality stables with better security and appropriately sized in quantity for 2020 as opposed to 1937 (the date of the park donation)
- Better landscaping
- Well funded events such as:
- County Fair
- Fall Festival
- Halloween Stuff (Haunted Barn? – These things make lots of revenue)
- Labor Day Celebration on Steroids
- Fall ½ Marathon (beginning and ending spot) to benefit Easter Seals
- Rodeo/Horse Show
- Restoration of Floral Hall
 On June 13, 1972, “The Home of the Friendless of Paducah, Kentucky” whose name was amended to “The Friendly Home for the Children,” a Kentucky Corporation conveyed to Kentucky Easter Seals Society for Crippled Children and Adults, Inc. all of its interest in Carson Park. The Deed is recorded in the McCracken County Court Clerk’s Office at Deed Book 541, Page 479.