Stages should be allowed to play music until 9 p.m. but Freeman Friday Night Live organizers should obtain liability insurance, according to recommendations given to city staff by the Downtown Taskforce Ad-hoc Committee Monday evening.
“We have done this for 10 years and the last several years have been incredible in terms of attendance,” said Roger Igielski, president of the Downtown Business Association – the group that runs the event.
There are limited changes to the popular music event that lasts from June to the end of September, despite attempts of one Waukesha alderman to limit the events, potentially twice a month. Alderman Eric Payne cited reasons such as the use of the community police officers who maintain a presence downtown each Friday night in the summer, that the event does not benefit all businesses and that it is not as special on a weekly basis.
Payne’s concerns were echoed by Nice Ash Cigar Bar owner Jeff Barta.
“This event is being put on by a group but it doesn’t include all of downtown,” Barta said. “… Please consider that there are businesses that are downtown and residents downtown that do not benefit and that can actually be harmed by this event.”
At one point, Payne said he didn’t want police officers on “barricade duty.”
“I don’t think we should use our community policing guys to pick up and return barricades,” Payne said. “… I think the time could be better spent doing policing rather than removing barricades.”
Payne’s recommendations were ignored by the other community members as city staff recommended the event continue every Friday night from June to September. Interim City Administrator Steve Crandell told the committee that the event does not place a demand on city services.
Police Chief Russell Jack said that even if the business owners who are involved with the music event set up the barricades, he would still require the community service officers to be at the event. No overtime hours are used to put on the event.
The Waukesha Police Department closes the streets in downtown Waukesha for the weekly concerts because the event's attendance has grown to levels where police supervisors felt leaving the streets open created a safety problem.
“If people see them in the beginning, it does keep the code of conduct a little better if they see those uniformed officers,” Jack said.