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Maggie codifies park rules

Maggie codifies park rules

Disparate parks and recreation regulations in Maggie Valley will be codified under one ordinance if the board of aldermen accepts staff recommendation. 

“The whole goal of the new park rules is to provide a safer and more enjoyable park experience for our visitors,” said Town Manager Nathan Clark. 

While the town does not have a parks and recreation department, it does have several parks throughout its jurisdiction. Previously, these parks were governed by a confederation of internal and external policies with different signage displayed at different parks. In order to make those regulations clearer, the town decided to codify the rules under one ordinance. 

“On review of that, we thought that was probably not the best idea to continue to try to enforce rules and regulations in our parks,” said Clark. “We decided to codify those through an ordinance.”

Though there wasn’t a single instance that facilitated the move toward codifying parks and recreation regulations, increased park activity was a factor in the decision. With more people enjoying Maggie’s parks, the town has run into several instances of people breaking park rules. More people are hanging around outside the permitted dawn-to-dusk hours, consuming alcohol on park property and leaving excessive trash. The town had to look at what resources it had available for enforcement of these rules. 

“Formalizing those rules of operation is just one of the things on the town’s list that we’re trying to get a better handle on,” said Clark. 

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Codifying park regulations will also help Maggie’s police as they try to enforce permitted park uses by having one, official ordinance to cite when someone breaks the rules. 

“They have a better idea of what they’re supposed to be doing as well as the public,” said Clark. 

One park issue brought up during the July agenda setting meeting had to do with people disposing of household trash at the town’s parks. Mayor Mike Eveland said he believed this was the doing of short-term rental guests in the valley who were supposed to go to the dump to dispose of their trash but instead disposed of it at the public parks. He said he experienced the same issue when running a hotel in the valley. 

While the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds is technically a park, it will not be in the codification because things like camping, drinking and driving on the grounds are often permitted during special events. 

The decision to codify Maggie Valley parks and recreation regulations was made with input from Police Chief Russ Gilliland and other staff. No board members expressed opposition to the proposal. Town Attorney Craig Justus will review the ordinance this month and it will likely come up for discussion at next month's agenda setting meeting.

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