Haunted Trail Canceled for 2006

Haunted Trail Canceled for 2006

Lack of insurance, time to find volunteers seals fate of Halloween event.

Haunted by the intense rainstorm that flooded Buckley Park in late June, the Clifton Town Council decided Tuesday night to cancel this year's Haunted Trail.

"It's a shame to lose something like this," said Mayor Tom Peterson while debating whether to cancel the event during a regular meeting of the Clifton Town Council on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

As recently as last week, the mayor and members of the Town Council were confident the Haunted Trail would go on as planned this year, using a twisted Buckley Bridge for the annual Halloween-themed event.

However, prior to Tuesday's meeting, council members were notified that the town had lost insurance coverage on the bridge.

Councilmember Wayne Nickum said that he spent two hours on the phone with the Virginia Municipal League, which provides insurance on the bridge to the town, to reinstate liability insurance. That alone would not allow for residents to traverse the bridge, he said.

If the council had voted to go forward with the Haunted Trail, an alternate location would have to be selected, but Peterson wondered if there would be enough time to find the 150 volunteers needed for the event.

COUNCILMEMBERS DISCUSSED having a Haunted Town on Halloween instead, where individual homes in Clifton would be decorated in place of having skits in Buckley Park. That idea was dismissed after debating the propriety of charging patrons of the trail to pay to enter Clifton.

"Even if we decided to go ahead with the trail in the next few days, we'd need to find 150 volunteers right now," said Councilmember Pat Layden.

Councilmember Lane Johnston, chair of the Haunted Trail committee, reluctantly agreed that it was best to cancel the event this year.

"All our intentions are good, but I think we need to take a year off," said Peterson.

The resolution passed unanimously by the council stated that the event would be planned for 2007.

Other matters discussed at the meeting included:

* Coastal Building Automation has begun the installation of a new digital HVAC monitoring system in the Town Hall, which should be completed within two weeks. The Town Council approved spending $10,000 for the installation of the system during their September meeting in order to reduce increasingly costly heating bills.

* The approval of the 2006-07 budget for the town, which includes a $3,200 grant from FEMA for the cleanup of storm-damaged Buckley Park and the estimated loss of $5,000 in revenue from canceling the Haunted Trail event.

* Discussed a letter of intent from architect Royce Jarrendt to purchase and renovate the Old Town Hall building, which he would then give back to the town for public use. No action was taken pending further review of the letter and actions taken by the last Town Council, and citizen input from a Town Meeting to be scheduled for later this month.