On Thursday evening, the East Ridge City Council passed on second reading an ordinance that will allow the sale of beer by special permit in Camp Jordan Park.
As in the first reading, the measure passed by a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Brent Lambert and Councilman Jacky Cagle voting no.
City Manager Scott Miller asked for and was granted additional elements be put into the measure. Those included giving youth sports “first dibs” on dates in Camp Jordan; the City Council considering the special permit application after city staff reviews it and makes a recommendation; the events selling beer in the park would be confined to specific areas; and the applicant would provide $2 million of liability insurance with the city named as additionally insured.
“We’re doing everything we can to make this environment a safe one,” Miller said.
Cagle, who has been a vocal opponent of alcohol sales on city property, wanted to table the ordinance until the city clerk could provide a “clean” copy of the ordinance with Miller’s proposed changes incorporated into the copy. The motion died for lack of a second. Cagle made a motion to reject the ordinance. It too died from a lack of a second.
Councilwoman Esther Helton made a motion to approve the ordinance with the changes suggested by Miller. Vice Mayor Larry Sewell seconded the measure.
During the “Communication from Citizens” portion of the meeting, pastors from two East Ridge churches spoke out in opposition to the measure. Chris Peponis, of Fellowship Baptist Church, said he was “passionate” about the issue and didn’t want the council to interpret his passion as being mad. He cautioned the council that adopting the ordinance was bad business and could hurt the city if it was sued.
Brent Baughman of Stanley Heights Baptist said that the innate properties of alcohol changes people’s behavior. He said that Camp Jordan is a busy place where children and families play and should not be put in harm’s way by a potential drunk driver.
Helton read into the record a letter from Dennis Massengale. Massengale’s letter touched on the issue as being an “emotional” one and portrayed by some as a “moral issue.” In his letter Massengale referenced scripture about Jesus turning water into wine. Massengale, a professional musician, urged the council to adopt the ordinance to “keep pace with other municipalities surrounding us.”
Police Chief J.R. Reed presented a plaque to ERPD Reserve Officer Jim Cordell for his 25 years of service to the department. Cordell said his tenure at the department was a “wonderful ride.”
Assistant Chief Stan Allen presented Officer William Johnson with a “Lifesaving Award.” Chief Allen said that Johnson, a second generation ERPD officer, responded to a possible overdose earlier this year and administered chest compressions to the victim prior to the arrival of EMTs. Johnson’s actions saved the man’s life.
“I can never say this enough,” Mayor Lambert said. “We are so proud of the fire and police who make East Ridge a better place.”
Jeff Sikes, Senior Project Manager for ASA Engineering, briefed the council on a drainage study the firm is doing for the city. Sikes outlined plans to reduce flooding in the business district from South Seminole Drive to Marlboro Avenue by installing new drain pipes on both sides of Ringgold Road. Sikes identified four areas along the business corridor that could be turned into “pocket parks” and used to detain stormwater runoff. This concept of detaining water could allow the installation of smaller diameter pipe to save money that could be used to acquire right-of-way for sidewalks and other pedestrian amenities.
The project would begin in September of 2018 and be completed in May of 2019. No cost estimates were given during the presentation.
The council adopted a five-year recreation plan, a plan that is required for cities to apply for state and federal grant money for parks and recreation. City Manager Miller boiled down the 80-page plan produced by Southeast Development District with input from citizens, into five projects: Improvements to Pioneer Frontier playground; construction of new restrooms and concession stands at Camp Jordan Park; construction of a splash pad near City Hall; the building of a dog park; and the construction of multi-use pavilion on property behind City Hall.
The council approved the borrowing of $221,000 for a street sweeper. It also approved an agreement with the City of Collegedale allowing the two cities’ police departments to assist each other. The council granted the City of Ridgeside a month to decide if it wanted to renew a contract with East Ridge providing fire and police protection to Ridgeside. Miller said under the current contract Ridgeside pays East Ridge about $95,000 a year. Miller wants to increase the price by more than 20 percent.
The council decided to cancel the second meeting of the month scheduled for Dec. 28.