cityhall1 300MADISONVILLE, Ky. (9/18/18) — Madisonville City Council was divided on closing Sugg Street and an alley for a LGBTQ event scheduled Oct. 13 in Madisonville.

After a lengthy discussion at a meeting held Monday afternoon at City Hall, the council decided to permit the closure of a parking lot near the railroad per a second request from the Pennyrile Pride organization.

Mayor David Jackson was at a Kentucky League of Cities meeting in Louisville on Monday. Council Chairman Mark Lee presided over the meeting, and held a moment of silence in memory of Councilman Bobby Johnson’s wife, Diane, who passed away Monday.

The third annual MadCity Pride event is expected to bring 800 participants as well as vendors. It had previously been held at Madisonville City Park and Ballard Convention Center.

Councilman Frank Stevenson questioned the city’s policy on closing public streets for non-service oriented organizations, saying the event does not fit the mold of a public service community organization. He said he has no objection to the event being held in the city, but advocated a line being drawn on what merits a public right of way closure.

“To involve road closures has the impact of being a tacit endorsement of that organization and its objective by those closures,” he said. “ … That could be conducted in publicly available spaces in the community,” such as city parks, without closing public roads. He maintained the request is crossing the line of a government agency.

Councilman Barry McGaw also voted against closing Sugg Street, citing a complaint from a constituent, along with Councilman Tony Space.

Lee and Councilman Adam Townsend mentioned they saw no difference in comparison to other groups in allowing the street closure on Oct. 13. Sugg Street had been closed for numerous, previous events that featured vendors, Lee said.

“Knowing that this item was going to be on the agenda, we did not hear from anyone from the community or anybody from the Sugg Street area, where this event will be taking place,” Townsend said, regarding anyone speaking against the event. “I personally see no difference in this event than I would other events in the city … to allow for a road closure.”

Downtown business owner Jenny Gibson spoke in support of the street closure, saying diversity and inclusiveness is what community is all about, and the area should be available to all people. In addition, she believes the MadCity Pride event would generate more business during the week of fall break in Madisonville.

Gibson stated she has no affiliation with Pennyrile Pride, adding that as a business owner, she knows that events bring in revenue.

“Sugg Street has been closed many times,” she said, “for entities other than the city of Madisonville, and our experience has been as a general rule … we would be out a substantial amount of income,” that would double or triple income for businesses situated along and near Sugg Street.

Pennyrile Pride Alliance organizer Cody Lander of Hanson spoke before and after the request to close Sugg Street was denied, saying the area is desirable for the festival due to the numbers expected to attend.

Lander asked the council if park property would be available like the plaza off Center Street, which is adjacent to the police department. The council recommended Mahr Park or Madisonville City Park upon completing an application to use the space, since there is limited space at First United Bank Plaza.

After additional discussion, the council agreed to close the Railroad Street parking lot off Sugg Street 9 a.m.-11 p.m. so that vendors could occupy that space, since no businesses or streets would be impacted.

As president of the Downtown Turnaround Partnership, Gibson said holding an event for business owners, who are also taxpayers, encourage commerce and improvement of downtown businesses. She believes council members who voted against the street closure did not seem concerned about the impact to companies that have already made plans.

McGaw said, “Maybe McDonald’s and Subways and Wings might catch some of those people coming and going … maybe they could stand a bone every once in a while,” rather than businesses on Sugg Street.

Gibson responded by saying, “With all due respect, sir, I’ve worked for the last decade, my butt off, to create a situation, and I certainly have never looked to anyone and said, ‘You do that for me,’ … which is not characteristic for the franchises in this town.”

In other business, the council approved the city’s 2018 property tax rate, which will remain the same as the previous year.

Real estate owners will be levied 12.2 cents per $100 assessed value. Vehicles and watercraft will be taxed at 15 cents per $100 value.

The assessed tax rate for business owners is 21.52 cents per $100 value of personal/tangible property.

Taxes are due by Nov. 30, according to the tax ordinance. A 2 percent discount will be applied if bills are paid on or prior to Oct. 31. Tax bills paid after Nov. 30 will be declared delinquent, with a 12 percent per annum penalty in addition to an extra 10 percent penalty.

Doreen Dennis
SurfKY News
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