Although the smell of grilling hamburgers and hot dogs invites plenty of watering mouths to the table, unfortunately it’s bringing just as much traffic to the square in Russellville when vendors host fundraisers in front of the Logan County Chamber of Commerce. Problems have risen due to traffic issues surrounding these events that have increased over the past few years.
Tammy Tinsley, Director for the Chamber, attended and spoke to the Russellville City County Tuesday, Feb. 7th, asking for direction.
“We have had several people apply and grill out in the front of the Chamber. The city has a packet they must fill out and there are rules they must follow. We are experiencing problems with some who don’t follow those rules,” said Tinsley.
The director said it was becoming a hazard to host the fundraising events in front of the Chamber and she is concerned about the safety of others.
“We have had several people that have brought young children with them. We are worried because the square is so congested on Fridays, especially during the summer months, and especially if the grilling occurs at the first of the month because it blocks a lot of the parking that is needed for citizens to come in and pay their bills. The traffic is also blocking some of the businesses around the square,” said Tinsley.
One of the things the Chamber is asking the city, is how to enforce those regulations the city signs off on.
“The Chamber is a business and it is hard sometimes to hear on the phone with so much noise. We want to be a community partner and be able to host fundraising events, but we just need more leeway and guidance,” Tinsley added.
Russellville’s Mayor Mark Stratton said one of the things the city encounters a lot is the time frame in which the fundraisers are held. “They are always held at either the first of the month when water payments are due or mid-month when water cut off occurs,” said Stratton. “The city doesn’t have time to police who is supposed to be parking where. God forbid someone get run over or hurt out there in the midst of this.”
The city began allowing these fundraising events in front of the Chamber years ago, however, there were only one or two per year at that time. Now, according to Tinsley, there are one or two sometimes each month.
Councilwoman Sandra Kinser suggested having the fundraisers in the parking area of the old theater on 4th Street. Councilman Larry Wilcutt agreed.
“I’d like to see it all moved down at the theater parking lot. I know it may inconvenience some of the businesses down there, but this is a public nuisance and a safety issue every time they set up in front of the Chamber,” said Wilcutt. “I think from a safety prospective we would be better off not to allow it at all in front of the Chamber. If they set up in the old theater parking lot it’s just a matter of people getting used to where they are setting up. That gets it away from most of the traffic.”
Wilcutt noted that whatever is done, the city will upset some people.
Currently there are events on the books for February and March, said Tinsley. She said they get started very early.
A motion was made Tuesday, Feb. 7th by councilman Wilcutt to eliminate all vendors setting up on the square in front of the Chamber, except during the Tobacco Festival and when the square is closed for events such as Thunder on the Square.
“The Chamber does not mind keeping up with these events at the theater,” said Tinlsey. “I don’t mind being the gate keeper for it.”
Stratton said he would go over the rules and reiterate to those who hold the fundraisers what is expected of them beforehand.
“Straight out we are not going to babysit,” said the mayor. “We will critique these rules. If we have to go down and make people mad and you have to leave, then you will be made mad and you will have to leave. We have to keep the safety of the people in mind.”
Wilcutt’s motion passed unanimously.
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.