Staff file photo / Signal Mountain Lions Club members Jerry Childers, left, and Earl Here smoke pork in 2001 on the barbecue pits the club built in Althaus Park. The pits have been removed for safety reasons, and the club wants permission from the Signal Mountain Town Council to enclose the structure for storage purposes.

Past attendees of the Signal Mountain Lions Club's Fourth of July and Labor Day barbecues likely remember the structure in Althaus Park that previously contained the barbecue pits used to prepare the annual feasts for the community.

The pits, which had not been used for years because of deterioration, were ultimately removed due to safety concerns, said Town Manager Boyd Veal. The Lions have since brought portable smokers to the park to prepare the meat, but members of the club are getting older and moving the heavy machinery from place to place is a problem, said Lion Ralph Mann.

The Lions are now requesting to enclose the structure which club members built many years ago. Because it's on town property in the middle of the Althaus Park playground, the club needs the council's permission to alter the building.

The enclosed space would allow the group to store its two rotisserie smokers, which are very expensive, Mann said.

The Lions also want to add shelving to organize their cooking equipment, and commercial-grade stainless steel basins to more effectively clean their utensils, which they have been washing in portable plastic basins. Currently, all cooking equipment is being stored in the old pool house at the park.

"Closing that building and obstructing the view across the park, that's a tall order to me," Landrum said, adding that he parks his car near the structure to supervise his grandchildren while they play in the park.

He said enclosing the structure to use as storage would also prevent it from being used as a second pavilion when the park's other pavilion is full.

"I understand all the good work you guys do in the community as well," said Landrum. "I just hope that there's another solution for this, and I also hope that if this is the only solution, that we get to see some designs and that it could be mountain stone."

Landrum suggested that the club look at adding on to the pool house building, and Mann responded that it would cost a lot more than enclosing the pit structure.

"For what the Lions do for our community, it would be worthwhile to make their job easier in what they provide," said Councilman Bill Lusk, adding that he would also like the building to stay aesthetically in keeping with the surrounding structures.

Veal said he would look into whether the project would need to go before the town's Design Review Commission or Planning Commission. The issue will be on the agenda for the council's Nov. 11 meeting if there's anything new to discuss at that time, he said.

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