Nags Head to Require Masks at Possible 2020 Dowdy Park Events
The Nags Head Board of Commissioners met this week to approve the town’s $21.8 million budget ordinance for the upcoming fiscal year beginning on July 1, including funds allocated for possible 2020 events at Dowdy Park, where everyone will be required to wear a cloth face mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Included in Nags Head’s budget for fiscal year 2020-2021 was originally $16,000 for a part-time hourly town employee to coordinate special events at the town-owned park, as well as another $5,000 to be used for procuring entertainment at those events, such as bands. These funds were to only be drawn from if and when programs and activities resume at the park, however, the $16,000 events coordinator funds were later frozen.
Before voting to approve the budget ordinance at yesterday’s (June 17) meeting, Commissioner Renee Cahoon asked for clarification on exactly what the Dowdy Park funds may or may not be used for, and then stated that face masks, as advised by local and state health officials, should be required to be worn by anyone attending any of the town-sponsored events.
“It’s town property,” Cahoon said. “If we’re going to encourage people to have mass gatherings on town property, shouldn’t we be more proactive and pro-health?”
Mayor Ben Cahoon and the other commissioners agreed on making the masks a requirement, after outgoing Town Manger Cliff Ogburn confirmed that it is within the town’s power to do so.
No events are currently scheduled at the park, but Ogburn said that the town is hopeful that events such as farmer’s markets could resume by late summer or early fall, contingent of course on the state of the ongoing global pandemic at that point.
“Assuming we will still be in conditions where mask wearing or face covering wearing is appropriate, and we begin having events on town property, I agree with you,” Mayor Cahoon said. “I think it would be appropriate to require that masks or face coverings be worn.”
Once home to an amusement attraction with a Ferris wheel and various carnival rides, Dowdy Park is a recently renovated town-owned park, located across from the Outer Banks YMCA and adjacent to Nags Head Elementary School between the US 158 bypass and the NC 12 beach road.
Expressing her preference that the town could save the $16,000 events coordinator funds by providing that service “in house” without the additional hourly employee, Commissioner Cahoon made a motion to freeze those funds until further action is taken, seconded by Commissioner Webb Fuller, which passed by unanimous vote.
The town’s budget ordinance for fiscal year 2020-2021 was then passed by unanimous vote, as well.
Later at this same meeting, Commissioner Renee Cahoon asked Commissioner Webb Fuller, who represents the town on the Dare County Tourism Board, to urge the the Tourism Board to use some of their funds to produce face masks with the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau’s logo that could be provided to local hotels and businesses to supply for guests, which would encourage more visitors to wear the face masks in compliance with current health guidelines, while also giving them a souvenir they can take home with them.