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City plans to curb activity at gazebo

PORTERDALE - In an effort to curtail illicit behavior in a park at the town's southern entrance, the City Council voted Monday night to explore the cost of adding lighting and moving the entrance of the park's gazebo to face Broad Street. The council also agreed to post a sign reminding residents that the park closes at sundown.

The park is located at the intersection of Broad Street (Ga. Highway 81) and Elm Street. Councilwoman Linda Finger, who lives nearby, said Thursday the gazebo in the park has become a gathering place for teenagers.

"They party out there, they have sex out there," Finger said. "We've had a couple who have been out there and been arrested, and they are out there until midnight."

Finger said anywhere from five to 10 teens at a time can be seen at the gazebo during the day and at night, and the activities taking place there are disruptive to the neighborhood.

"There are small children all over the place (in the neighborhood), and they don't need to be hearing that stuff and to be kept awake by it," she said.

Councilwoman Kay Piper made the motion Monday to look into improvements at the gazebo. She said she also plans to seek assistance from the Newton County Master Gardeners to help with landscaping the park.

"It's the first place people see when they turn in at that four-way stop (at Ga. 81 and Crowell Road), and it's a good place to start with some beautification," Piper said Monday.

Piper said Thursday she'd like to see Porterdale's landscaping return to it's former glory.

"Back in the day, Porterdale was known for the beautiful flowers and beautiful landscaping in the village," she said. "Porterdale had its own greenhouse, and they grew plants year-round, and from one end of town to the other, those islands and parks had roses and all kinds of flowers. And the shrubbery was kept immaculate."

Piper said the gazebo was a gift to the town from former Councilman Bill Norton and his wife, Gail.

"The gazebo was such a wonderful gift from the Nortons, and I certainly want it preserved, and I want the park beautified," Piper said.

Alice Queen can be reached at alice.queen@newtoncitizen.com.