A 18-foot likeness of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, which was donated to Paris last year, has found a home on Courthouse Square.
Steve Brown, a native of Paris, has agreed to lease a lot he owns at the corner of Express and West Walnut Streets to the city for $1 a year for five years as a home for the tower. Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers has signed the lease. Now, the question is how to pay for setting up the tower on that lot.
An item addressing that issue will be on the agenda when the Paris City Council meets at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 7. The meeting will be held in the Municipal Building.
The tower was donated to Paris by the Rev. Don Eubanks, former pastor of First United Methodist Church in Paris. The tower has stood in the yard of John and Donna Flanagan’s home in Paris since it was donated, awaiting a decision on where to display it.
Rogers said last week he believes the Aldermen will be asked to pay up to $15,000 to put the tower on the lot. The work includes mounting the tower on a concrete pad, according to Rogers.
“The city has the $15,000,” Rogers said. “We’re also going to get a $1 million liability policy to protect us if someone should get injured once the tower has been set up.”
Placing the tower on the square was a project undertaken by the Paris Area Economic Development Council and the Merchants Association, both committees operating under the Paris Area Chamber of Commerce. But that’s just the first step. Bonnie Harmon, owner of Scott’s on the Square and a member of the merchants group, said plans are being put together to beautify the square and turn it into a destination for tourists and residents.
“Right now, we have three projects,” she said. “Bring the Eiffel Tower to the square and build a covered stage and bring music back to the square. Grow and advertise our Farmers Market and include craft vendors and we’re in the process of developing a brochure about Paris and our surrounding communities and include coupons to bring people in.”
Rogers said some of those plans will also be a topic at the City Council meeting.
“They’ve also got a design for Courthouse Square and they’ll share it at the meeting,” Rogers said.
“We’ll see what they bring to the table and what they need,” Rogers said.
Rogers also added that the PACC has some funds that can be used and the city will seek General Improvement Funds for projects on Courthouse Square.
Harmon said the Merchants Association includes representatives from Paris businesses, Mount Magazine State Park, the City Council, the PACC and the economic development council.
“To be a member, you have to join through the chamber because we’re part of the chamber,” Harmon said. “No one will be excluded. We will be promoting membership to all merchants in the area.”
“We’re excited about this,” she said. “We’ve met with the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs and there are a lot of people who are excited about this.”
Both Rogers and Harmon are optimistic about securing funding for the project.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to move forward and begin work,” Rogers said.