Traverse City Record-Eagle

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December 13, 2013

Traverse City could cap summer festivals at four

TRAVERSE CITY — Tourism and festival proponents may lose the first go-round with neighborhood residents who want to cap the number of summer events at the Open Space.

City commissioners on Monday will take up a committee’s recommendation to revamp city parks policy and limit at four the number of festivals in June, July, and August at the Open Space.

The National Cherry Festival and Traverse City Film Festival would be allowed under the cap, as well as one event in June and one in August. The policy also would ban events at the Open Space on Memorial Day and Labor Day. The commission meets Monday at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center.

“This gets directly to the whole issue of festival fatigue that we heard about from the residents,” said Commissioner Ross Richardson, who chaired the committee. “People who were complaining about the festivals were complaining about how many there were, how cheaply they were being offered, and the noise.

“This is a reduction of one festival from what we had last year, and that seemed like a reasonable starting point,” he said.

Commissioner Gary Howe opposed the recommendation. He maintains residents’ concerns are about access to the Open Space, not the number of festivals. He wants to do more to limit the amount of space that festivals use, and better manage festival sprawl.

“I think a lot of them don’t need the footprint they use,” Howe said. “It’s a lot of clutter on the Open Space.”

Central Neighborhood resident Karen Anderson said festival promoters have monopolized the Open Space and the city commission must protect the park’s primary purpose as passive recreation.

“If you go down there, it’s usually mayhem, and it’s not an open, quiet, scenic green space,” Anderson said. “It’s full of music and vendors and people.”

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