Greene resigns from tourism board, Williams quits as director of parks in April | News
Citing conflicts with the city’s tourism and city council, Kelly Greene announced her resignation from the City of London’s tourism board on Monday evening.
“I think there should be a dividing line between the city and tourism, so I feel like I should quit and this will be my last meeting,” Greene said.
Greene is one of four city council members serving on the city’s tourism board. However, state law and an attorney general’s notice state that board and commission members are prohibited from serving on two boards, whether that appointment is paid or voluntary. Although Holly Little, Kip Jervis and Donnie Lee Philpot won’t begin their terms on council until January, Little was on the tourism board when she was elected to city council. Philpot was elected to the council in November and was nominated by Mayor Troy Rudder to serve on the tourist board later that same month. Jervis was re-elected to the council and also sits on the tourist board. This gives a majority of the city’s tourist board also sitting on the city council – an action Greene cited when she tendered her resignation from the tourist board on Monday night.
“I’ve enjoyed this past year, I’ve appreciated everything you’ve all done and just keep up the good work and make London proud,” she continued. “I always tell people that I don’t know what we would have done with tourism. They are what define London and bring things to London and I am happy to have that knowledge now, to have been able to sit on this council and to see all that you are doing for London.
A second unexpected resignation came later in the meeting when Parks and Recreation Director Mackey Williams announced his resignation, effective April 1. Williams said he gave the notice to give tourism officials the opportunity to seek new leadership in his post.
“I would like to say that I appreciate all the support we have received from the Parks Department since I have been here,” he said. “I would like to be younger and some healthier people and I would stay.”
Several commission members and Chairman Starr Handy commented on Williams’ dedication to the city and the tourist board, saying they were grateful for his service. Commissioner Phil Smith said Williams had always acted “with class” and hoped the new person in the position would have the same qualities.
“There are a lot of people who are hard workers and do a good job at what they do, but there are others who do it with class,” Smith said. “Mackey was what I’ve seen as class in that position.”
Handy said he, Robinson and some commissioners would work together on a job description for Williams’ position, adding: “But I’m not happy about it.”
With those comments, Williams continued her report on the parks. He said the bathrooms at Levi Jackson Park were closed for the winter season. The drinking fountains and some of these toilets are not insulated and Williams said the facilities could not withstand the freezing weather forecast for the Christmas weekend. These facilities will remain closed until the second week of January.
Construction of the $200,000 all-inclusive playground at Wellness Park is well underway. Williams reported that certain areas of the park would be closed to complete these projects.
Levi Jackson Park manager Steven Holt submitted a bid for the renovation of Shelter House 1, at the top of the hill on the left, which needed repairs. Holt said the contractors submitting information had worked on the Kingdom Come project and there were few contractors who could renovate this structure to maintain its rustic appearance.
Margaret Dyche, whose grandfather established Levi Jackson Park as a state park in the 1930s, said the shelter was likely 90 years old. Handy said the shelter was one of the original structures and he retained the log construction and chimney.
“Time takes its toll and it needs to be fixed. Because it’s historic, you don’t want to go with modern materials – you want it to keep it looking like it used to be,” she said.
Williams added that “a good, heavy snow would destroy this building” and contractors experienced in this particular type of renovation/upgrade were scarce.
Rangers Retreat is an Airbnb and was used by the drone show team. Holt said he heard a proposal from Emily Sharp to oversee rentals of this property, which would include a 20% fee for her business. This service also includes the cleaning of rental work.
Holt added that the park’s power lines had mostly been cleared, with only a small section left to maintain. He explained that if one section of the power lines fails, the whole park loses power.
Camping fees are down this year, more than $100,000 less than previous years. Problems with booking online campsites and other issues reduced usage somewhat. However, leadership changes and new policies were successful last year, which Robinson summed up: “It was a successful year with minimal hostility.”
A new pumping station in the park will be added to the entire park, which could lead to an expansion of the campground.
In the events, executive director Chris Robinson said the Lights Around London car tour was a big hit with 64 entries across the county. As the drive-in tour continues through Dec. 31, he said Winter WonderCamp will end its season this weekend as it closes before Christmas.
“If you haven’t been there, they did a great job,” Robinson said. “They’ve added more and want to do more next year.”
The Christmas on Main parade had more than 2,000 participants — closer to 2,500, Robinson added. The Lights Over London drone light show on December 16 was a huge success and attracted people from other areas.
“It was a huge night. Of course some people wanted it to be longer, but we knew what we were getting,” Robinson said. . With the technology it takes to put this together, we’re hoping for a slightly longer show next year.
The downtown event also boosted downtown businesses which saw record sales that evening. Tourism Chairman Starr Handy said he spoke to people from out of town who attended the event, adding that it was a phenomenal event that attracted people from different areas.
London Community Center manager Brittany added that plans for the New Year’s Eve party downtown are going well, with Superfecta being the featured band this year.
“I don’t know how many of you have seen them, but they put on a great show,” she said. “If you haven’t seen them, head over to their Facebook page.”
A transitional tax change by the state legislature this year, which previously only affected hotel and motel fees, now charges the tax for campsites and short-term rentals, which will affect reporting. and income from the tourist office. Robinson added that the Laurel County Tax Court — along with other counties in the state — accepted the transitional tax rates and amended their orders to reflect them.
Cradic said the last event of the year took place on Monday. She added that there were already 80 reservations for 2023.