HomeNewsConservation board accepts director resignation; decides on park rental

Conservation board accepts director resignation; decides on park rental

The Madison County conservation board has had a week eventful enough to call a special meeting on Thursday night, five days before their regular meeting on Tuesday.

The board handled three items.

The first one was the abrupt resignation of Chris Guerin, who’d been the parks and recreation director for Madison County for nearly three years.

He tendered his resignation Tuesday morning, and the board voted to accept it and appointed Programs Director Tony Ragland as the interim director of the department.

Guerin did not respond to requests except to verify by text message his intent to resign the position.

The second item on the agenda was how to handle a dispute with a person who rented the equestrian center at the Fred Young Park last weekend to host a rodeo who paid the rental fee and then had payment on the check he wrote on Saturday stopped.

“He was difficult to deal with before the event and afterward and then called his bank Monday morning and had them stop payment to us to rent the place,” said board member Josh Morton. “So we need to decide if we want to pursue getting that money and if so, how to handle it.”

After about 15 minutes of discussion, the board decided to send the renter a letter notifying him they didn’t receive payment and that he would no longer be permitted to rent the facility again.

“If that’s the way he wants to act, he’s not one that we’re going to work with in the future,” said board president Milt Canovan.

The board then discussed the final issue of the evening, which is what Canovan said led to Guerin’s resignation – the scheduled rental of Pugh Bourne Park on June 24 by West Tennessee LGBTQ+ Support, LLC, for their Community Pride Month Celebration.

They discussed an apparent dispute about their rental agreement.

“Someone with their group came in and asked about renting a pavilion at the park to have a get-together of what they said was about 15 people or so,” Morton said. “But according to advertisements they’ve run on Facebook, it looks like there will be considerably more people at this event than 15 and taking up more space than a pavilion.”

The board discussed the issue for about 10 minutes, discussing whether they needed to keep the rental fee as is for a pavilion only at $25 plus a refundable deposit of $75 or increase it to the fee of renting the entire park, which is $1,200.

According to a post on June 1 on West Tennessee LGBTQ+ Support’s page, there are 15 vendors confirmed for the event including three food trucks along with a wet bouncer.

While the board felt like this appears to be more than a small gathering under a pavilion, they were all comfortable with letting them have the park for the day at the $25 price with the plan of contacting them early next week to let them know any future gatherings they want to have of this size would be charged the full park rental of $1,200 or $1,500 if the renter is from outside Madison County.

“We weren’t there for the conversation Chris had with this person, so we don’t know if they planned on a small gathering and it grew or if they tried to rent a pavilion knowing it would be bigger than that,” Canovan said. “So the thing we need to do is honor Chris’ agreement with them, but we’re going to let them know if they need the entire park for a full day, then they need to pay the fee any other group would pay for any of our facilities.”

A $1,200 rental guarantees full use of the park for the renter for an entire day, meaning they could set up a private event and keep everyone else out of the park if they choose.

County Attorney Jay Bush was at the meeting and committed to helping the board draft more concrete agreements and regulations regarding park rental fees as well as getting paid in advance for events to avoid the stop payment situation with the rodeo issue.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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