Once again, Jacobson Park and Lakeside Golf Course are the spoonful of sugar that is supposed to make the medicine go down.
But to those with a clear memory (or access to a news archive), Kentucky American Water's feel-good TV ads extolling its own generosity are more like salt in a wound.
The deed to the land surrounding one of KAW's reservoirs (on which taxpayers built a park and golf course) was the reward in 2005 for abandoning city purchase of the utility.
That shortsighted decision came from an Urban County Council dominated by then-Vice Mayor Mike Scanlon and elected with money from water company employees and associates. (At least the company didn't get to name it "Kentucky American Water Park," as it first proposed.)
Never miss a local story.
The water company presented the deed to the city in 2006 on condition that it be held in escrow until Jan. 2, 2011.
How convenient to be able to "give the people of Lexington a gift" just as you're sticking them with a second big rate increase to pay for a dubious expansion and after suffering a setback at the polls last month.
If anything drove home how exclusively focused this company is on extracting profits from Lexington, it was how it treated Mayor Jim Newberry.
Newberry was the water company's candidate in 2006 in his contest with Mayor Teresa Isaac, who had been elected on a promise to use condemnation, if necessary, to achieve public ownership.
After the water company's high-priced propaganda campaign, voters soundly rejected city purchase of the utility at the same time they elected Newberry.
As mayor, Newberry let the water company push through a $164-million treatment plant on the Kentucky River in Owen County and a 31-mile pipeline, without fully exploring whether the city's water needs could be met more cheaply. Mayor-elect Jim Gray and other council members, the Louisville Water Co. and the Public Service Commission pleaded for an exploration of cheaper alternatives.
Kentucky American thanked Newberry for his support by seeking a 37 percent rate increase in his re-election year and began collecting the increase without PSC approval little more than a month before the election. The PSC ended up granting a 29 percent increase, which means customers will get a refund.
Under Tuesday's PSC order, KAW and its New Jersey-based parent are entitled to a 9.7 percent rate of return on the $164 million invested in the new treatment plant and pipeline. The company had requested 11.5 percent, but should be pleased with 9.7 at a time when banks aren't even paying 1 percent.
Now, with a mayor who's willing to challenge KAW coming into office and with diminished support on the council, the company is appealing directly to the public with its warm, fuzzy ads.
For the record, a 1968 federal grant built Lakeside Golf Course west of the reservoir. The water company leased the land to the local government for a nominal sum and threw in 160 acres east of the lake, which later became Jacobson Park. That transferred the liability, while the company retained access to the water when needed.
Looking ahead, it's a relief that the water company no longer has the mayor and council in its pocket going into the 2015 renegotiation of the city's water franchise.
But looking back — at the high cost to Lexington residents and businesses of the missed opportunities and bad decisions — it's hard to imagine that it's not just a matter of time and money until the company is back in the driver's seat.