The Whitesburg City Council has voted unanimously to give final approval to a new ordinance prohibiting the use of motorized vehicles on the city walking trail that leads from downtown to West Whitesburg.
The ordinance, approved July 31, prohibits all motorized vehicles from the paved trail with the exception of city maintenance vehicles, emergency vehicles, and motorized wheelchairs. Other vehicles are prohibited because of safety concerns for walkers and bicyclists and the damage motorized vehicles cause to the blacktop.
Council member Perry Fowler, who originally suggested the law protecting walkers, conducted the second reading of the ordinance at the special meeting and Jimmy Bates moved to adopt it. Council members and Mayor James Wiley Craft have all expressed frustration and outrage over recent acts of vandalism and damage to city property.
"This is a rather draconian measure," Craft said of the new ordinance. "But until we can send a message that people are not to destroy what we have put together in this city, it will take a draconian measure. I reside in that area and it is very pleasurable to see people, moms, dads, and children, walking on that track. I will not see them endangered in any way."
The "draconian" measures Craft referred to are the penalties for violating the ordinance which include confiscation of the offending vehicle.
The ordinance specifies that any person, firm, or corporation found to be in violation of the ordinance shall be fined $500 and incarcerated in the Letcher County Jail for 10 days. In addition to the fine and jail time, violators will have their vehicle seized and impounded by the arresting officer and it will be sold at public auction upon conviction. Proceeds will be placed in the general fund of the City of Whitesburg to be used for maintenance of the pedestrian/bicycle track.
The ordinance now covers the pedestrian track from its intersection with KY Highway 15 on the west end of the city to the new James W. Bates pedestrian bridge on the east end. The measure also applies to the portion of the track around the old Whitesburg High School football field, which is still used for Letcher County Central High School activities and practices.
Craft said at the council’s July meeting that the ordinance will be modified to include the remaining portions of the trail. The ordinance will become law after it is published
in this week’s Mountain Eagle.