By Vanessa McCray
TRAVERSE CITY — City officials want public input on a proposed revision to park use and festival policy.
A committee of Mayor Michael Estes and Commissioners Barbara Budros and Mary Ann Moore reworked the policy that covers city park use. The group will review its recommendations with the full city commission at an Oct. 8 meeting at 7 p.m. in the Governmental Center and wants the public to share thoughts on the policy.
Suggested changes include charging an application and event permit fee for some events held at parks and creating a more administrative approval process for event requests.
"The whole idea is that we've approached this subject with attempting to have as much community involvement as possible on all aspects ..." said Estes.
The policy discussion follows a request, which the commission approved, for the Great Wakes Festival to use the Open Space. Some commissioners voiced objections to the June event but said it met current rules.
Estes said one goal of the rewritten policy is to eliminate politics from park use requests.
"When someone wants to apply to have an event at a city park, that's an administrative function. That's where it should be, and hopefully that's where it will end up," he said.
The revision calls for the city commission to approve festivals and events greater than three days in length, said city Clerk Benjamin Marentette. Other events are approved by the city clerk or the parks department, which would authorize low-impact events such as small reunions or weddings. Decisions could be appealed to the city manager and the city commission.
The policy draft includes exemptions for the National Cherry Festival and Traverse City Film Festival, citing those events' history and benefits to the city.
"It outlines clearly that the cherry festival will work on a separate contract because of the size and scope of our event, and that I believe is appropriate," said cherry festival Executive Director Trevor Tkach, who followed the committee's work. "I think they are making steps in the right direction to protect their assets and to protect the brand of the community."
New fees are contemplated in the policy, including daily park charges for high impact events with discounts given to nonprofit event organizers.
"I think the fees are appropriate. They were based (in) my understanding on not only looking at other places, but the actual number of work hours to review one of these applications," Budros said.
The refreshed wording also is "more user friendly," she said.
A new policy requires a vote of the full city commission.