The last three months seem to have been spent in angst for those seated on the Cumberland Gap Board of Mayor and Aldermen. As the dog days of summer heat up outside, the council appears a little worse for wear as they continue to sweat over several town issues.
Plans for a dog park had neighbors of the proposed site a bit disgruntled due to expected nuisance and noise levels that the facility would likely create for the quiet residential neighborhood.
After all was said and done, the board agreed to allow the Cumberland Gap Volunteer Fire Department, manned for the most part by nearby Lincoln Memorial University students, to create the park on town-owned property located on Roslyn Avenue.
Since the town is simply giving permission to use the property, it will be under no constraints if it later decides to do away with the dog park, according to town attorney James Estep III.
The dog park pilot program will last 12 months. Town officials will then decide whether they wish to take over maintenance of the park.
The facility will include a dog agility course, graveled paths and dog-specific water fountains. A shelter and picnic tables are included in the plans.
The facility is expected to be completed by the end of this month.
Meanwhile, the council adopted, on first reading, an ordinance allowing dogs to run unleashed inside dog parks.
A seemingly innocuous festival is apparently giving the BMA a bit of concern. The Harvest Moon Art Festival, slated for Oct. 8, will include a wine-tasting event.
While town ordinances forbid the imbibing of alcoholic beverages on public property, Mayor Bill McGaffee did say during the meeting last week that the town has no authority to restrict alcohol consumption on private property.
A festival representative said during the meeting that coordinators of the previous wine-tasting event, held in the Gap, abided by all town rules and regulations.
Participants must ask to sample a particular wine. They cannot carry open bottles around, she said.
McGaffee apparently took exception to the coordinators of the last event donating the proceeds to the Harrogate Book Station, rather than to a worthy nonprofit inside Cumberland Gap.
“I have no problem with you doing this (event). I did not attend the last one because it was in violation of the town ordinances,” said McGaffee.
Alderman John Ravnum said the town needs to look into revising those ordinances, writing them in such a way as to not be “misused.” He suggested checking with other towns to see how they handle these types of situations.
“We need to come up with something that will be more palatable for everyone,” said Ravnum.
The council approved a motion allowing the wine-tasting event during the festival, with the stipulation that it must be on private property.
While the county is facing a likely property tax increase, Gap residents are already assured of a hike effectively doubling their taxes. Town folk owning property will now pay 90 cents per $100 of assessed value – up from 45 cents, in one jump.
The increase will be used to fund the hiring of two part-time police officers and to cover the repairs to streets and equipment. The increase will also fund a 25 cent per hour raise for the two full-time town employees.
The ordinance was adopted on second and final reading during a special-called budget meeting on June 27. Alderperson Susan Bain was the lone no vote. Ravnum was absent during the meeting.
The two police officers will be patrolling at odd hours. Each will be paid for ten hours per week.
Three alderpersons will be in the ring during the November elections. Bain, Phillip Waller and Teresa Fuson will be battling to retain their respective council seats. Mayor McGaffee has decided not to run for reelection, opening the seat wide for any takers.
The next regular monthly meeting has been moved to Sept. 6, due to Labor Day.
Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @ scribeCP.