The growing possibilities of Mozingo Lake Recreation Park as a venue for concerts and other large gatherings, and the impact on park staff and facilities such events create, sparked discussion this week during the regular meeting of the Mozingo Advisory Board.
While such events are viewed favorably by the board, they have created some concerns, such as the need for an approval process used to screen applicants.
City Manager Greg McDanel told the panel that "The Point," an open hilltop on the east side of the lake that includes a large shelter house and several picnicking areas, has emerged as an event venue.
McDanel said municipal staff is currently working on an approval process for The Point and other park locations that would specify user responsibilities with regard to security, alcohol use, electricity consumption, site clean-up and other issues.
An example of the kind of event the board hopes to bring to the park is June 22's Texaco Country Showdown, a sort of Nashville-flavored "American Idol" that is expected to draw as many as a thousand people to The Point for an evening of live music.
McDanel said organizers have already agreed to handle set-up and clean-up for the event and will also pay costs associated with electricity usage and additional security provided by Maryville Public Safety officers.
Increased demand, or at least an expectation of increased demand, for access to the park's youth camp was also discussed by the board Monday. In addition to cabins, the area includes a multi-purpose building with a large dining hall and a commercial-grade kitchen.
Envisioned for use by such organizations as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4-H, the facility has also attracted attention from groups consisting primarily of adults. That has created some friction, since, under park guidelines, youth groups can "bump" adult events provided they reserve the camp at least 30 days in advance.
A proposal before the board would extend that period to 90 days, thus providing a longer reservation buffer to non-youth groups and organizations seeking to use the facility.
Increased park usage is also an issue along the lake's wooded west shore, where a new equestrian camping area and horse trail have generated complaints about horses being ridden onto the nearby nature trail.
Local horse groups have advocated expanding the existing "multi-use" equestrian trail so that it encircles the lake, but board chairman Ed Higdon said that probably isn't a feasible alternative given possible damage to more developed areas of the park.
A more practical option, said Mozingo Manager Grant Evans, might be to extend the existing horse trail north along the lake's western shore.
Sgt. Rick Smail of Maryville Public Safety, who is in charge of law enforcement at Mozingo during the spring and summer, said expanded facilities for camping, horseback riding and hiking may require the addition of a third police officer at the lake during peak-season weekends.
Page 2 of 2 - Smail said the current two officer set-up leaves one policeman on the water in an MPS boat and another on land, generally on the east shore. If the boat officer responds to a problem on the west side, he could find himself on foot pursuing someone on horseback or in a vehicle. If the land officer responds, the drive from the east side of the park can take upwards of half an hour by ATV.
Any law enforcement staffing changes at the lake, Smail said, must still be approved by Public Safety Director Keith Wood.
Also during Monday's session City Manager McDanel asked the board to consider renting a large billboard currently available along northbound I-29 near Dearborn in Buchanan County.
Cost of the billboard is $800 a month plus a one-time $550 fee for the sign and installation.
McDanel said the City Council budgeted $36,000 during the current fiscal year for marketing Mozingo, and that only $17,000 has been spent, mostly on a recently launched branding campaign that included a new website, park signage and Mozingo-themed merchandise.