Porterdale gazebo discussion on agenda for council meeting

PORTERDALE - Unlawful behaviors at a gazebo at the southern entrance to the town were again a topic of discussion Tuesday night when Porterdale council members were presented with an estimate of $1,400 to correct problems with the wooden structure.

The council had agreed June 2 to explore the cost of repositioning the entrance to the gazebo so that it faces Ga. Highway 81. That location would make people in the gazebo 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. Highway 81 and Elm Street.

Councilwoman Linda Finger, who has been a vocal critic of what takes place at the gazebo, said last week that teens are using the gazebo as an all-hours gathering place where they party and have sex. Finger, who lives near the park, said the illicit behavior at the gazebo is disruptive to the neighborhood.

City Manager Tom Fox presented a cost estimate at the council's Tuesday work session that would cover relocating the entrance to the gazebo and repairing the roof.

Finger said the gazebo is nothing but a trouble spot and a headache.

"I say we trash it and get rid of it," she said.

Finger said she isn't opposed to improving the landscaping at the park, since it is situated at one of the town's entrances, but, she said, "the gazebo is trouble."

Councilman Mike Harper agreed with Finger's assessment.

"Spending that $1,400 is like throwing it off the bridge," he said.

Mayor Bobby Hamby suggested another option - moving the gazebo to the park across the street from his house, which is further north on Ga. 81.

Hamby reminded the council that the gazebo was donated to the town by former Councilman Bill Norton.

Council members agreed to further discuss the future of the gazebo at the next regular meeting, scheduled for July 1.

In other news, the council agreed to spend around $4,000 for fireworks for the town's annual Independence Day celebration, slated for July 5 from 3 to 9 p.m. Harper and Councilwoman Arline Chapman said they would each donate their $500 annual compensation from the city to the cost of the fireworks.

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