Tuesday, December 19th, 2006
By Timothy Cox
Freedom Days committee donates $10,000 toward future lakefront park development
  After only its second year, Celina's new Freedom Days community picnic is donating $10,000 toward the further development of the lakefront park where the Independence Day event is held.
Celina City Council members unanimously accepted the gift at Monday's meeting, where they briefly debated how the money will be used.
"I think it's wonderful they're doing so. We certainly do appreciate it," council President Bill Sell said.
Freedom Days is a joint venture between the Celina posts of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and the local Fraternal Order of Eagles and Loyal Order of Moose lodges. Next summer's picnic will be the third annual Freedom Days.
"Paying tribute to our vets living and past, we pride ourselves in our picnic as it is all about family enjoyment and honoring our military," a joint statement from the festival organizers said. "This donation is to be used to continue to improve the Northshore Park area, such as more sidewalks, street improvements and other needed improvements to the park."
The language in the ordinance accepting the donation and setting up the fund says only that the money is to benefit the city parks department. Some council members questioned whether that put any stipulations on how the money is to be used.
Law Director Kevin McKirnan said while the money now belongs to the city to be used as city officials see fit, city leaders also would be wise to follow the donors' plans.
"If you don't follow their wishes, they won't give you any more money," McKirnan said.
Other city officials said the festival committee would have a strong say in how the money is spent. Mayor Sharon LaRue said the money would be spent on sidewalk and curb improvements along the lakefront and to install a couple of new flagpoles.
"They will have the final say on how the money is spent, which is legitimate," Councilman Rick Bachelor said.
"As you drive down Lake Shore Drive, you can already see the improvements to the park area," the Freedom Days news release said. "Making summertime activities and entertainment more enjoyable, the Freedom Days picnic is proud to be a part of the park improvements for the community to enjoy."
Councilman Myron Buxton asked whether there was a master plan for development of the city parks system. When told there is no such plan, he encouraged city officials to develop an overall vision for the parks. A concrete plan might encourage more corporate donations, Buxton said.
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