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Council members take stand on gazebo

PORTERDALE - City Council members are taking stands over what should be done with a gazebo located in a park at one entrance to the town.

The fate of the wooden structure, which reportedly has become a late-night gathering place for illicit activities, may be determined at the council's regular meeting Monday. However, at a Tuesday night work session, lines were drawn over whether the gazebo should be trashed or treasured.

Councilman Robert Foxworth said Tuesday night that he had been contacted by town residents who wanted to make sure that the gazebo is saved. Councilwoman Arline Chapman said she had also heard from five residents who want to protect the gazebo.

On the other side of the issue, Councilwoman Linda Finger, who lives near the gazebo, maintains that it is simply a magnet for trouble, and Councilman Mike Harper is opposed to spending any town money to improve the structure.

Councilwoman Kay Piper was present for the work session Tuesday night but had to leave before the gazebo came up for discussion.

The council first addressed problems with the gazebo in June and agreed to explore the cost of moving the entrance to the structure to face Ga. Highway 81, making activities inside more visible to passing police cars. The council also agreed to look into the cost of adding lighting to the park were the gazebo is located and to post a sign reminding residents that the park closes at sundown. The gazebo is located in a small park at the intersection of Ga. 81 and Elm Street.

City Manager Tom Fox reported to the council in June that it would cost an estimated $1,400 to correct problems with the gazebo.

Finger said illicit activities at the gazebo may not be evident to those who don't live nearby, but the problems are ongoing. Finger said she investigated the gazebo Sunday morning and found eight empty beer cans, four cigarette wrappers, empty snack bags and other trash.

Harper said considering the city's tight budget, any money spent on the gazebo is too much. Harper stated his position definitively: "I will make a motion to tear it down at the next meeting."

Finger said she would support Harper's motion, while Chapman said she would stand with Foxworth to continue efforts to keep the gazebo.