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Street Closure Ordinance Stalls Yet Again

Until a new ordinance is adopted, Freeman Friday Night Live still can run as it has in past years.

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 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.

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 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 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

“We are going to lose our good acts because we can’t give them a guarantee,” Mackay said.

Meanwhile, Kathy Garcia, owner of 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.

Jason J May 01, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Why can they just not leave it the way it was? Was one fun event a week during the summer that much of a travesty? Perhaps providing some good free entertainment in this bad economy rubs some people the wrong way and they feel that it needs to be paid for. As a Waukesha resident the event needs to stay, if a Bar owner is complaining about it, maybe he needs to come up with a event of his own to draw people into his bar during this time... or sell N/A beverages and cigars outside for visitors to the event to purchase if they wish. Sounds better than complaining all the time.
Waukesha Girl May 01, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Last time I asked, I was told that the CHIEF OF POLICE closed the streets because of safety issues. He makes the orders and we follow them! Like it or not, he is the man in charge. These meetings are a waste of everyones time. Leave it be already. Some of these business owners are appearing as nothing but children stomping their feet because they are not getting their way. Keep it up and no one will be shopping or or stopping at their establishments because they are coming across as such whiners. Stop the Insanity Already! ENOUGH.
lori lester May 01, 2012 at 03:42 PM
First and foremost, I give thanks to the WDBA and waukesha freeman on their efforts in creating and organizing such a wonderful event, FFNL. Waukesha has been my home town for over 30 years, and I have witnessed many changes. One thing is certain, it is getting better and better. I am passionate about the growth of downtown Waukesha. I have a Passion to bring new business to Waukesha in an attempt to bring even more excitment and possitive energy to our community. We have to be as pro active as possible to give our residents as much family friendly activities as possible. Obviously, the vast majority of the residents love FFNL, and even more the street closings which create an added heir of excitment. As far as restrooms, we have two open to not only customers, but any one attending FFNL. Sincerely, Divino Gelato Lori Lester and sloppy joes shelly wierzchowski
Sarah Wonderiling May 01, 2012 at 04:17 PM
I totally agree with your comments.
Karen McGilvray May 01, 2012 at 07:29 PM
To all the business owners who are complaing about Friday Night Live. Stopping Friday Night Live street closures for a few hours is just the thing to do. When you're done with that, why don't you return the Springhouse to the five points, have flop houses and welcome vagrants back and lets not forget one way streets. Good luck with your time machine!!
I Enjoy a Vibrant Downtown May 01, 2012 at 10:32 PM
First off, I'd have to second Karen's comment above-some of these people must have totally forgotten just how far downtown Waukesha has come in the last 10 years or so. What I really don't get is how a (very) small group of (very whiny) people can continue to try to fight this fight when they see that the general public is so overwhelmingly opposed to changing FFNL in any way, other than maybe making it even bigger! Between the Wicked Witch of the West End of Main and Mr. Smelly Cigar Bar Guy they have single handedly waged a war to destroy FFNL (or at least severely limit it) even in the face of overwhelming opposition. Shame as well on the few common council members who continue to be the stool pigeons for these clowns! All you have all succeeded in doing is wasting a lot of people's precious time! Now let the FFNL party begin and if things are too loud or hot for you down on the west end of Main or inside your very smelly bar-TOO BAD-YOU LOST!!!!!
Chris B May 02, 2012 at 12:09 AM
This is about the city. A street closure ordinance affects the WHOLE city, not just downtown. The event organizer, WAUKESHA DOWNTOWN BUSINESS ASSOCIATION NEEDS to have LIABILITY INSURANCE to help protect the city from any potential litigation. Plain and simple, the city needs to protect the safety of it's residents and reduce any exposure to potential liability. .

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