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A Never-Ending Battle: Street Closings Again up For Discussion

Ordinance & License Committee set to review a request from Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings to review the street closing ordinance.

Street closings in Waukesha and possible changes to the ordinance are again up for discussion, despite

in Waukesha after became so popular that the police department shut down the downtown streets for the weekly music event because of safety reasons. Not every business owner and downtown residents are pleased with the decision and the results of the downtown taskforce.

The Ordinance & License Committee will take up a referral from Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings about the issue at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Aug. 27) at City Hall.

Cummings is asking the committee to define duties and responsibilities for the organizers who are closing the streets during a special event.

“The criteria in the present ordinance for closing a street is minimal; it requires that the application be completed and that no other entity has already requested a street closing permit for the same location,” states Cummings referral to the committee. “The rationale for this referral is closing a street to vehicles even for a short time has myriad impacts on those that live, work or travel on the closed street. Other communities have street closing ordinances that ensure that the municipality minimizes its liability, that events are well run and cause minimal impact on residents and businesses and furthermore provide those most impacted by the street closing to have opportunity for input. The city ordinance should be revised to address these issues.”

However, Mayor Jeff Scrima noted the downtown taskforce that was reviewing the ordinance and other downtown issues sent its recommendations before the Common Council, which it approved 12-2, according to the mayor. The recommendations are attached to this article.

“Thank you for your careful review of city ordinances,” Scrima said in an email to aldermen, downtown stakeholders, city employees and members of the media. “For a plan and outcome that the thousands of people

Chris B August 27, 2012 at 10:05 PM
The committee's discussion isn't about FFNL, its about the street closure ordinance Since this ordinance would apply to the WHOLE CITY other events will be impacted as well. I get that FFNL will be impacted, but I do not believe the committee and Common Council can have an ordinance that will just benefit or not benefit one particular event. I would ask the committee to keep in mind what is best for the city as a whole but at the same time respects an individual's rights to access their property.
Mainstreet TheShaw August 27, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Is it true Jeff Scrima is going to do stand up comedy like he does at city hall?
Erik Helgestad August 28, 2012 at 02:31 PM
As a downtown resident, my wife and I have loved the events downtown. Changing the ordinances would have impacts beyond FFNL, and should be considered very carefully. Back to FFNL though, it's been fantastic to invite friends, family, and coworkers who have not been to Waukesha in a long time come and walk through downtown. Many come back then during the day then to see the other businesses (Plowshare, Merrils, etc). I've had business visitors stay at the Clarke as well, and comment that they wish their downtowns were like ours (coming from a Portland resident as well). I'm still having a hard time understanding how a weekly, popular event that draws foot traffic to our downtown would be a bad thing for businesses on a Friday evening. If I'm not mistaken, it wasn't that long ago that many businesses downtown would be closed at 4pm, and downtown would be pretty much dead on a Friday evening. If businesses are truly having issues (such as the tattoo artist), then they need to work with their neighbors to resolve that, and work with the organizers as well. If we want to have our downtown grow and prosper and fill the empty storefronts, we cannot continue to bicker and fight like this as a community.
Chris B August 28, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Erik, all great points! I agree that changes to the street closure ordinance need to be considered carefully, but changes need to be made. For example, a once a year "block party" and residential street closure( in area zoned residential) is different than a weekly "special event" and main street closures in a commercial area with a variety of businesses. Some cities like Milwaukee and Appleton have ordinances that apply based on the type of event. Overall what needs to be kept in mind is what is best for the city BUT at the same time respects individual's rights to unobstructed access to their property.
Erik Helgestad August 28, 2012 at 09:38 PM
I agree Chris, a balance needs to be found. I hope it means we can continue having positive events for our downtown and city that everyone can enjoy, and help bring attention and people to the area.

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