Birthday parties at the fire dept?

City to develop policy for public use of safety complex

BUCKHANNON — As the City of Buckhannon is flooded with more and more requests to hold baby showers and birthday parties at the Public Safety Complex’s training room, city officials are working to develop a policy that will stem the tide.

At council’s March 1 meeting, mayor David McCauley noted there’s been an upswing in the number of residents requesting to use the room, in which the fire and police departments hold their trainings.

“That room is getting more and more action all the time, and we need to set some reasonable constraints relative to what it’s going to be used for and rent and those other kinds of things,” McCauley said.

Fire chief J.B. Kimble said, “We’re getting a lot of nongovernment agencies wanting to utilize that. We’ve had people call wanting to have birthday parties, and really we don’t have a policy right now, but a lot of the stuff that goes on there could actually utilize Stockert a lot better than our facility. But being that we don’t have any guidelines to go by right now, it makes it difficult.”

McCauley suggested he, city attorney Tom O’Neill, police chief Matt Gregory and Kimble sit down and hash out a policy governing usage of the room. The mayor said, ideally, the policy would be presented at this Thursday’s regular council meeting March 15.

Kimble said the room is getting so much traffic, it’s actually been difficult for the fire and police departments to schedule training sessions.

“This month, if you go down and look at the calendar, it’s only open four days,” Kimble said.

Councilwoman Mary Albaugh asked, “And you’re giving it to them for free?” to which Kimble replied in the affirmative.

“That’s not right,” Albaugh replied.

What’s more, Kimble said, is that some of the individuals using the room “are wanting to use our technology stuff, our computer-added stuff, that stuff is very expensive. What’s happening is in the evening, if the fire department is out on call, these people are coming in and plugging in their stuff without us being there.”

Councilman Robbie Skinner pointed out that without a policy in place, council has no way to protect its investment in the room and equipment.

McCauley added, “It’s a fine line. We want to be inviting. We don’t want people to be afraid of the police officers and the firefighters.”

Kimble said, “I like people being in there, but when it comes to Matt not being able to get his guys in there for training, then it becomes a problem.”

Council will likely review a draft of the policy at its March 15 meeting.

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