Meet in the middle. Magazine city councilman Joe Cheyney (left) and resident Melvin Thomas stand on either side of a tape barrier where a fence will be erected to enclose Hank Stone Park.
Just hours before the 31st annual Magazine Homecoming was due to get underway Magazine aldermen and owners of two properties which border Hank Stone Park apparently came to an agreement which will clear the way for a fence to be built around the center of the homecoming activities.
Using survey stakes — the property has been surveyed at least three times at the behest of city officials and or Marvin Thomas, one of the property owners — all sides found an agreeable location as to where the fence will be constructed along the south edge of the park.
With only three aldermen present for the special called meeting Friday morning, Mayor Stan McConnell presented the agreement in the form of a motion, John D. Roberts seconded and Joe Cheyney and Donald West all agreed to the point where a stake was driven into the ground.
That occurred after the meeting recessed at City Hall and moved to the park for over an hour before returning to the council room.
Thomas agreed to have the point officially set by yet another survey in exchange for the fence construction and also agreed to connect a fence to establish his property as well.
At issue for Thomas and neighbor Clint Myers, has been an alley from Wood Street to the park, which Thomas said during Friday’s meeting, was intended to be closed by the council in 1982, a year before homecoming weekend was established.
However, the closure was never recorded, city officials say, and although what was once an alley is essentially a yard now, Myers and Thomas have been subjected to foot traffic through their property by individuals bound for the park.
The issue is not specific to the homecoming weekend events in the park — an orange tape barrier was put up in advance of this year’s homecoming events. Myers said it is not uncommon for trespassers on his property to become belligerent when informed that the park access they are using is private property.
“That’s what we deal with every day in that park,” said Myers.
Contention about the property boundary is longstanding, McConnell said, and specifically throughout his near eight-year term as mayor.
While all parties exercised diplomacy for the most part during Friday’s meeting, there were disputes as to when the latest dispute arose over the boundary with alderman Cheyney pointing out Myers has retained an attorney to represent his interest.
While the boundary issue appears to be settled, alderman Roberts said Myers should contact his attorney regarding petitioning the council for an official vacancy of the alley connecting Wood and Scott streets, reserving easements and utility right-of-ways, which Roberts said must occur through a public hearing at a regular city council meeting. The council meets on the second Monday of each month.
Myers said he did not to sound like he didn’t trust anyone but he said he was concerned — Thomas added the men thought the agreement reached last week had been reached over a year ago — that the council could chose to not vacate the alley.
Cheyney and Roberts both indicated they would agree with vacating the property and McConnell said a majority of three alderemn is all that would be necessary to vacate the alley.