Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Festivals: Is proposed ordinance best way to deal with them?

Growth of festivals since 2009 has brought crowds, costs  and contention to Queen City.
Something is missing in the current attempt by City Council and the Mapp administration to address the question of multi-day festivals that call for street and sidewalk encroachments.

Ever since Faraones owner Edison Garcia sponsored the first event in 2009 and then Rodney Maree of Chez Maree piled on, the events have mushroomed, bringing huge crowds to Plainfield as well as traffic congestion and contention over noise and public consumption of alcohol.

After considerable wrangling last year, with the Council voicing the concerns and complaints of residents, it seemed that we might get off on a new foot with a new administration bringing all the stakeholders -- including downtown merchants who say they are negatively impacted -- together to try and work out a mutually agreeable solution.

However, it seems no one has even tried to do so; and the Council proposed that SID representatives be invited to come before it to express their views on the Administration's proposed ordinance (MC 2014-11) at this past Monday's meeting. No one showed, and it seems possible that the Administration did not even invite them.

Quite a discussion ensued among Council members over the Mapp administration's highly restrictive proposal of a single festival per applicant per year. Finally, the proposed ordinance was amended -- after Council President Bridget Rivers and Councilor Vera Greaves protested -- to allow two per year per applicant.

I think both the Council and the Mapp administration could handle this matter much better.

Everyone knows that the last place on earth that meaningful discussion can take place is DURING a Council meeting. Failure to include all the stakeholders in the preliminary discussions and to attempt to cover all the bases and iron out the wrinkles in advance of proposing the ordinance to the Council is shortsighted.

Who are the stakeholders? Well, certainly those who propose to hold these annual events. But also representatives of the merchants who say they are negatively impacted (SID members), as well as representatives from the City Council and leading personnel from the Mapp administration (specifically economic development, public safety and public works).

Such a group, ably chaired, could have a thorough discussion of the positives and negatives of the events, investigate options for making them beneficial for all downtown businesses, tackle the question of expenses and/or loss of revenue by the city and how to recoup them, and consider blocking out a tentative annual calendar which would satisfy all.

All this would take some time and effort, but it would go a long way to building a stronger and more united partnership between city government and the Plainfield business community -- something that is a stated goal of the administration and key to the success of both.

Isn't that what 'One Plainfield, One Future' means?

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Alan Goldstein said...

They should be limited to a single day (tops of two), and they should be sponsored by reputable non-profit organizations. This idea of leasing out public spaces to profit making enterprises, tolerating competing operations, with music blaring for hours on end, is just plain wrong. It is unfair to the merchants and the general public to have to tolerate multiple days of inconvenience and noise, and what turns out to be at net public expense as well.

Anonymous said...

The city of Elizabeth has festival fee's that exceed $80,000. The city of Plainfield comes no where near that amount. If the city were to charge what should be a more realistic fee maybe they wont consider doing more than one festival a year. These night clubs sale more that 1000 cases of beer, each case has 24 bottles, that's 24,000 bottles of beer, and they sell it at $5!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's more than $100,000 a year, of course they will do a festival every other month.

active citizen said...

Excellent suggestions, Dan. I hope the mayor and Council are listening. We can use this blueprint for items in the future.

Bob Bolmer

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't a Latin Festival the city would not be acting this way.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they use a park or the high school carnival field.