Badin Town Council considers public safety issues regarding group events

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Badin Town Council, the issue of public safety in regards to group meetings was discussed at length.

The council unanimously passed a resolution stating events which follow the governor’s order of 25 or less may use the West Badin park as long as ample parking is available in the park or nearby, but not on the streets surrounding the park.

Town Manager Jay Almond relayed a story to the council about an inquiry from organizers of a local family reunion which ordinarily draws more than 100 people.

He said the reunion is usually at one of the grandfather’s properties or Chuck Morehead Park, but the family was looking to have the event this year at West Badin.

Almond mentioned the recent Juneteenth celebration at the park, noting the permit was for 25 people but many more were in attendance.

“Obviously, the event was far larger than (25 people),” Almond said. “While the event went very well, there was an extreme concern during the event because…the roads were impassable.”

Attendees of the Juneteenth event were parked on the sides of the roads around the park, which Almond said was a concern should emergency vehicles be needed for a house fire or someone having a medical emergency.

“There essentially was no fast way to (get emergency services in) and there were just too many vehicles on the road,” Almond said.

Almond said he had discussions with the fire and police chiefs and other officers who said they “thoroughly enjoyed the event but even when they were casually going to leave they had an extended period of time to wait” in trying to leave the area.

Some suggestions were made, he added, to use some parking areas either by asking permission from McDonald’s Chapel AME Zion Church at the top of the hill, or asking Alcoa to use land near its property and then shuttling people over by golf cart to the park.

Almond said Badin Police can determine how many cars could be parked in the park area as well, which was another option for events.

Councilman Larry Milano asked about the parking lot on N.C. Highway 740 owned by Alcoa. Badin officer Darrin Dissler said events, like the recent motorcycle benefit rally, had to have a permit from the town and from Alcoa.

Milano said “this is something that needs to be solved,” adding “it will come up again and again.” Mayor Pro Tem Deloris Chambers said she “would love to see family reunions at the park” but expressed concern should vehicles like a fire truck not being able to get through.

Councilman Ernest Peoples said he was worried about setting a precedent for future events.

“If we start denying (others) and we’ve already let this group have that, we are setting a precedent,” Peoples said about letting one group have a permit but denying another.

Chambers made a motion to allow events with ample parking, removing a barricade at the park to allow overflow parking, but it did not receive a second.

Peoples later made a motion to allow events as long as ample parking was permitted in the park and parking on the street was not allowed. Milano seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.

Dissler added the town had a number of temporary “no parking” signs which could be used to disallow parking on the street.

Via email, Almond later said “Badin Town Council has been clear for months (that) they are not prepared to approve events that run counter to orders issued by the North Carolina State Government.”

He noted several events have been cancelled because “they were deemed likely to violate state orders.”

Currently, Almond added later, “no event applications have been submitted for consideration” since the Juneteeth event.