Council: No fishing in retention ponds

Published 8:21 am Friday, July 1, 2011

FRANKLIN—City employees will no longer be allowed to fish in city-owned retention ponds near the former Winn-Dixie and behind Franklin Bowling Center.

A previous administration had allowed employees to fish the ponds, which are stocked for mosquito protection; however, a motion by Councilman Don Blythe during a Monday Franklin City Council meeting to include residents was voted down 5-2 with Blythe and Councilman Greg McLemore in favor of the motion.

The council left it up to City Manager June Fleming. Fleming decided to stop the practice due to safety and liability concerns.

“It’s not designed for fishing,” Fleming said of the slopes on the banks of the ponds. “There are other places to fish. It’s not safe to fish there.”

Blythe recommended posting signs to relieve liability issues and let anybody fish there, but City Attorney Taylor Williams advised councilmembers against that because signage does not take way liability.

Williams agreed the slopes are too dangerous.

“The ponds are not meant for fishing; they are meant for retention,” he said.

McLemore said letting employees fish there hasn’t been a problem and thought the practice should continue.

“Considering they don’t get many benefits, why take something away from employees?” McLemore said. “I would hope council would not take the privilege away from employees in order to not allow citizens to fish there.”

This is contrary to what McLemore said in a May 23 meeting when he stated allowing employees to fish in the ponds, but not allowing citizens to do the same, was special treatment.

He also had a problem with letting Fleming make the decision.

“Is the city manager the god that says it’s safe?” McLemore asked.

Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson stood by the council’s decision.

“I hope the city manager will find answers, and we can allow it, but if she can’t, I want to stand by legal advice,” Johnson said.