Proposed route for September parade is more than twice
the length of the July 4 Parade route.
Plainfield's City Council engaged the Fiesta Wars this past Monday, passing resolutions approving the 2014 version of dueling September Hispanic Heritage fiestas to take place the weekend of September 12 - 14.
While there was a lot of back-and-forth over noise levels and whether the beer area would be roped off (it always has been -- these folks actually need to come to the fiestas sometime!), comparatively little notice was paid to the most striking innovation: a parade proposed by The Maree Group/Voluntad Productions.
Upon questioning, Rodney Maree said that the proposed route was from Rock Avenue to Roosevelt Avenue. Other details were sketchy at best.
Retired police captain Siddeeq El-Amin came to the mike to ask for more information on the parade proposal, suggesting it could be a 'fiasco' without proper planning.
Just a glance at the map indicates that the proposed route is more than twice as long as that of the Independence Day Parade, which steps off from Johnston Avenue and East Front Street and terminates at Madison Avenue and West Front Street.
Not only that, the proposed route would involve seven major north/south arteries -- Rock Avenue, Clinton Avenue, Grant/West End Avenue, Plainfield Avenue, Central Avenue/Grove Street, Park Avenue and Watchung Avenue. Compare this to only Park and Watchung Avenues for the July 4 parade. Besides these main arteries, many more side streets that feed into West Front Street would be affected.
No mention was made of how many floats or marching units were expected, nor arrangements for a staging area to assemble the parade elements or how it will be dispersed at the Roosevelt Avenue terminus.
As the July 4 Parade is a tremendous draw on public safety resources (not to mention overtime), an expense that is borne out of the city's budget, one has to wonder what the costs for this longer parade would be and how much the sponsors would have to pony up for police.
And then there is the question of cleaning up behind the parade. In the case of the July 4 Parade, a DPW crew comes along immediately behind sweeping the street and tidying up. How much will that cost the promoters?
I love a parade, and this could be a good idea. A proposed route along West Front Street makes sense, as the heart of the 4th Ward has also become heavily Hispanic.
But what does not make sense at this point is what the real costs are going to be to pull it off and what arrangements are going to be necessary so as not to turn Plainfield into a bottleneck for all north/south traffic in the entire western end of the city.
The Council seems ill-suited as a vehicle for solving this kind of problem. I seem to recall that after last year's festivals and the ensuing criticisms, there was a consensus that the administration would encourage all the parties -- including also the Special Improvement District and the Latin American Coalition -- to sit down BEFORE THIS YEAR'S EVENTS and reach some amicable agreements about who would do what, and when and where.
It is clear that has not happened -- though I am loath to fault the newly-installed Mapp administration, which has had its hands full just getting up and running, what with dealing with obstacles thrown in its way by a Council majority.
Nevertheless, the tangle of issues surrounding the city's new and popular festivals should be resolved by the administrative branch and not the legislative branch, methinks.
Let's hope someone irons out the wrinkles before September.
-- Dan Damon [follow]