Changes to the city’s street closure ordinance stalled yet again Monday night when members of a Common Council committee weren’t ready to make a decision after they had been provided with copies of a proposed ordinance only just before the meeting.
Since the ordinances haven’t changed, Freeman Friday Night Live, a weekly music event in downtown Waukesha, can go on as it has in recent years. A downtown task force has recommended, though, that the event sponsors provide liability insurance for events involving street closures.
The aldermen on the Ordinance and License Committee wanted more time to review the proposed ordinance and to ask city staff questions about the changes. However, there was no one from the city attorney’s or the city clerk’s office at the meeting to clarify the changes. In fact, it wasn't clear from the document they were given how the ordinance was changed.
Alderman Paul Ybarra said he was “disappointed” that members were handed the proposed ordinance as they walked into the meeting.
“We don’t have enough information,” Ybarra said. “It is irresponsible for us to take action right now.”
The meeting room with people interested in the fate of the weekly music event that has gotten so large that the Police Department has closed the street. While the audience was told the committe only was discussing street closures and Friday Night Live, several spoke about large events that require the streets to be closed.
Chris VanderBloomen, a downtown Waukesha property owner and Business Improvement District board member, said the proposed changes did not go far enough.
“I could go an ask you to have a street closed every day of the week,” she said. “Who is going to say you can’t do it?”
Alderman Steve Johnson, chairman of the committee, noted that seven different city departments currently have to approve the street closures.
“There is a denial process,” he said.
Nice Ash Cigar Bar owner Jeff Barta said it’s easier for events to be held in the streets than it is to go through city approvals for events at the area parks. Barta called for insurance for events, portable toilets and the frequency of events to be addressed.
“The parks are meant for gatherings of people,” Barta said. “Streets are meant for traffic.”
But Roger Igielski, owner of Allo! Chocolat and president of the Downtown Business Association, said event organizers plan to point Friday Night Live attendees to businesses that are restroom friendly for the event patrons.
Kerry Mackay, owner of The Steaming Cup and a stage manager, urged the committee to let them move forward on approvals for the 2012 Friday Night Live season. The season begins June 2, which is also the launch of Waukesha GuitarTown.
“We are going to lose our good acts because we can’t give them a guarantee,” Mackay said.
Meanwhile, Kathy Garcia, owner of Poppin’ on Broadway and another stage manager, said she felt she was being left in the dark on what the committee was discussing as it just received the proposed ordinance from the city attorney’s office right before the meeting began.
“I just want to make sure everybody gets a fair a shake on what is being discussed. … I just want to make sure everything is open on the table,” Garcia said.