Council reviews property ordinance in workshop

Pictured is Victory Park where a shooting reportedly took place during a birthday party at the Minden Community House.

By Bonnie Culverhouse

An ordinance designed to keep city property safe for the persons using it was part of a Minden City Council workshop discussion last week.

“When there are events at parks and places like that – the number of people attending and all – that’s what this ordinance was created for the council to look at,” said Mayor Terry Gardner.

Minden Police Association President Jason Smith said the ordinance presented last week had “drastic changes” from the original.

“Essentially, it still requires an application to rent the civic center and other places,” he said. “We added the rec center and city parks. It’s a matter of if the people want to have alcohol and there are a lot of people, it gives us (the police) a way to shut it down if needed.”

Smith said the description that would fall under the ordinance would be “a huge block party” but on city property and without some type of security.

Lt. Joel Kendrick, Minden Police Association vice president, said the proposed ordinance was a combination of the old and new.

“We took everything that already required a permit and rolled other city property into that,” Kendrick said. “Basically, in the event that property is damaged and or someone gets hurt, then we know who rented the property, and the city will be able to reclaim the loss.”

The ordinance reads “No person shall erect any structure, or stage any performance, or conduct any race, athletic contest or parade, hold any meetings, or make any speech or hold any large gathering with more than 25 people in any park or any city owned property, except by permit or rental agreement.”

“We want to make sure they have some kind of security – it doesn’t have to be us (Minden Police),” Kendrick said. “It can be the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office or Marshal’s Office. Just to make sure nothing happens.”

Gardner pointed out there is no alcohol allowed in the city parks in the proposed ordinance.

“I think that’s important because things can get out of control,” said the mayor. “Surprisingly, that was the Youth Advisory Committee – the young teenagers that said absolutely no alcohol in the parks. So, they want things to run correctly, too.”

Gardner said one of the problems this ordinance will help solve includes restroom destruction at the local parks.

“They are costing the city a tremendous amount of money,” he said. “Sometimes after these events, the sinks are off the walls, toilets are pushed over, and this enables us to hold someone responsible. We will know the time it starts and the time it ends, so if the restrooms are destroyed, we know if someone from the event did it or if it was vandalism.”

District B Councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker said she feels the ordinance is unfair because it requires a permit if a family wants to have a child’s birthday party at a park with more than 25 persons attending.

“If there’s 26 people, they’re in violation,” she said. “What’s fair about that?”

If the ordinance passes, there will be fines for violations. Gardner asked the council to review the ordinance and let him know if it could be put on the next council agenda for a vote.