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City defers vote on guns in parks

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Concerned with how a blanket ban on guns in parks will affect the city, Murfreesboro City Council chose to defer voting on the issue Thursday night.

“I’d like to wait to hear from the TSSAA and see if this would affect Spring Fling,” Mayor Tommy Bragg said.

City Manager Roger Haley proposed a city-wide ban in municipal parks after Tennessee’s General Assembly passed a law that allows carrying guns in state and city parks legal, as along as the individual has a carry permit.

“It’s not our intention to interfere with the Second Amendment rights of the people … (but) to provide for a safe environment for the children and public use our park facilities,” Haley said last night.

Councilman Toby Gilley disagreed in full, saying he wholly supports the new state law. Gilley was the only councilman who voted against deferring the measure.

Haley’s suggestion to outlaw guns in city parks backed is by Murfreesboro Police Chief Glenn Chrisman, Parks and Recreation Department Director Lanny Goodwin and Old Fort Golf Director Tracy Wilkins.

The resolution would have prohibited the carrying of guns in municipal parks, natural areas, historic parks, nature trails, campgrounds, forests, greenways, ball fields, golf courses, sport complexes and community recreation centers within the Murfreesboro City Limits.

The penalty for doing so will be a maximum of a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

***

City Council unanimously approved Murfreesboro’s budget and tax levy for the next fiscal year, which is balanced with no new taxes or fees but cuts the size of government.

The proposed budget totals $96.8 million, an increase of $3.39 million over last year. But $2.96 million of the increase comes in the form of debt.

The city’s property tax rate will stay level at $1.407 per $100 of assessed value.

Only a hand full of city departments will see a budget increase next year, those include state street aid, fleet services, community development, the VA golf course and administration.

Early in the budget process, the city proposed laying off some employees, but thanks to an unexpected windfall no jobs will be lost.

The city will use $1 million of the windfall to pay for its current debt, which frees up cash to save the jobs.

The city will also add some much needed cash to the budget of the fire department, solid waste, St. Clair Senior Center, parks and recreation department, community development and fleet services.

Haley also recommended leaving frozen and vacant positions unfilled, because it doesn’t affect any active employees and saves the city more than $994,000.

The unfilled positions are scattered throughout city departments and include 18 police officers. The police jobs may be funded by stimulus money, if the cities COPS Hiring Program grant is approved.

***

The city approved a measure to control methane leaking from the Old City Landfill on West College Street.

The measure will burn off the excess methane released by the decomposing trash in the old landfill, but Bragg asked if it was feasible to harvest the gases for other uses.

Sam Huddleston, an engineer on the project said harvesting the gases isn’t an option.

“There’s just not enough gas here to make that an option,” he said.

When the landfill was closed in 2004, a passive landfill gas management system was installed, but late last year the gases seeped their way into the Gateway Island pond.

The city consulted with environmental consultants, Griggs and Maloney, and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to develop a plan to manage the gas situation.

Griggs and Maloney suggested installing a long-term active gas extraction system, which burns excess gases as they rise to the surface from a well placed within the old landfill.

Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or mwillard@murfreesboropost.com.
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Budget, City, Guns, Old City Landfill, Roger Haley, Taxes, Toby Gilley
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Members Opinions:
June 26, 2009 at 4:04pm
Gutless deferment...I'm with Friends of Long Hunter (state park support group) and our rangers are very concerned about guns being brought into state parks...use some common sense....ban guns where our children are at play, not to mention adults....I hope the TSSAA has more sense than the Republican-controlled state legislature....
June 26, 2009 at 7:40pm
Safe environment for our children. Well, where are our children getting these guns and how are they getting them to school? Where our children play. They play in subdivisions only to be endangered by speeders. At this day and time, when you disarm law abiding citizens, then we will see whose lives are endangered. Just sitting at home is a danger. I have been reading the news lately, it is not guns I worry about.
June 26, 2009 at 10:53pm
Have you stopped and read the proposal? It is for those who have jumped through ALL of the hoops and are permitted to have a gun that are being told no. NOT the people we should be concerned about. NOT the ones who have NOT jumped through the hoops. THOSE people will still carry and they are the ones that scare me. I for one WANT the responsible people to have the guns. Gutless derferment? No just gutless to rock the boat all in the name of votes!
June 27, 2009 at 6:25am
Outlaw guns and only OUTLAWS will have guns.
June 27, 2009 at 7:45am
Typically, police and children have nothing to be concern about regarding law abiding citizens that have qualified to legally carry a handgun. Making legal guns illegal in parks will not stop criminal activity in parks nor will it prevent criminals with no respect for the law from brining their illegal guns into the parks. I have witness incidents of police being rescued by armed citizens such as the reporter who saved a female officer from an attacker after he set down his camera --- took out his gun and accosted the attacker. The law will only assure the criminal that his potential rape victim isn’t packing a light weight shooter while jogging --- Stop knee jerking and think about it!!!
June 27, 2009 at 10:40am
So does that mean that children are not safe in other areas where law abiding citizens who carry guns that have successfully completed the handgun permit course, went through all the background checks etc to be able to carry a gun ? Keeping law abiding citizens from carrying in parks will only assure the thugs that their prey is unarmed.
June 27, 2009 at 11:53am
Canalou's comment is naive and uneducated. It was very well responded to and I agree that the member's of our community who legally arm themselves to protect their family should be our last worry. Why....? because they are law abiding citizens and you want them around. If the city council would be willing to poll the residents and make it clear that it is not just anyone who can carry a gun into these areas I think you would find a overwhelming response that you want legally armed citizens to have that right.

Parks have been a haven for crime for a long time. The fact that you will allow citizens who have the option to arm them selves legally may deter crime in those areas you are so concerned about. In a gun free zone you are a sitting duck, because we already know that criminals do not obey the laws and they will be armed and ready to take what they want and leave the rest.
June 28, 2009 at 1:32am
Guns don't kill people, people kill people. If the crook didn't have a gun he would have a knife, and believe me there are a lot of crimes perpetrated with knives. Look at the 9/11 hijackers, they didn't have guns but look what they were able to do with box cutters. So you see, it's not the weapon but the person, and if I'm attacked while carrying a firearm, you can bet that crook shouldn't have brought a knife to a gunfight.
June 29, 2009 at 5:42pm
Well, let us pray that those people in N. Korea behave.
June 29, 2009 at 9:08pm
TOPCOP & mhm2a have the right ideas; these knee-jerk reactions are all too typical of the gun banners. Of course some of them may wish one day that those of us who do carry legally were allowed to carry wherever and whenever our right SHOULD allow us to.

These poorly informed persons are just like the ones that ones that voted for OneBigAwfulMistakeAmerica, poorly informed.
June 30, 2009 at 3:44pm
I love the irony in gun nuts talking about knee jerk reactions. The only truly responsible law abiding gun owners are the ones responsible enough to leave the guns at home. I'm much less afraid of the "criminals" in Murfreesboro (or lack thereof) than I am the hot headed gun nut who's just itching to be a hero. I don't care how many hoops you've jumped through, if you feel you need to carry a gun in a public park, around children, you lack the appropriate judgment necessary to carry responsibly.
June 30, 2009 at 4:23pm
Maybe we will all be lucky that an innocent person does not become a victim. We hope help arrives before it is too late. Park marshalls would be great. We have air marshalls. Gee, children are on those planes. We can not be trustworthy of our own children, so we require resource officers at our schools. Oh, we place our trust in a person wearing a badge to carry that weapon. There have been how many officers stripped of their powers in the last month. A person toting a gun to commit a crime is a zero. I hope there is a law abiding citizen with a gun around who could be a hero.
June 30, 2009 at 5:17pm
Alright, if you're scared of the kids at the park and all the "crime" in Murfreesboro, then maybe money talks. Murfreesboro stands to lose an estimated $3.4 million by allowing guns in parks. TSSAA has already said they will take the Spring Fling elsewhere if guns are permitted. A $3.4 million loss because a few people are too scared to leave their guns at home.

That said, as much as I hate the thought of my 8 month old son being around anyone, law abiding or not that has a gun, and as much as I enjoy a good argument, the truth is, this whole thing is a bit of a waste. Only about 3% of Tennesseans have the appropriate permits to carry concealed weapons anyway. And of the 218,000 people holding the permits, about 300 a year lose them. So even if the city caves, the odds of my family enjoying time in a non-war zoned park are still pretty good and the odds of anyone in this thread actually having a concealed weapons permit are pretty slim.
June 30, 2009 at 7:51pm
What we do not know does not hurt.
July 02, 2009 at 11:46am
You must be completely pain free then.
July 02, 2009 at 7:38pm
Either way, children are around law abiding citizens with permits and weapons. Have been for a long time. The ones who are bent in enforcing the gun laws must be insecure about children to begin with. Oh, they have to have those SRO officers there at school. We have come to realization that we have to have air marshalls on planes. Oh, we have children on board. Officers have been decommisioned, yet we entrusted those guys to tote the weapon and wear the badge. Our nation proves that surveillance cameras must be used at convience stores. We need armed security at banks, grocery stores. We are unsure about our neighborhoods at night, so we need armed security and extra patrol. So, please, do not use numbers and children to deter law abiding citizens from having a weapon for the purpose of protection, when we have armed people for the sake of protection to begin with. Obviously, crime or children of destruction has yet to knock at your door.
July 02, 2009 at 7:39pm
Enjoy.
July 07, 2009 at 11:29am
See, with all of that, there's no need for you to carry a gun. We're covered.
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