Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 18, 2012

Traverse City caps Open Space usage for fests, events

Proposed fee schedule cut, but city gets more 'control'


TRAVERSE CITY — The city commission capped the future use of its parks for festivals and other events, but left enough room to accommodate growth.

A committee of city commissioners worked with area promoters and the tourism industry to draft a policy that will allow up to four more weekend festivals at the Open Space during the summer, including one up to eight days in length. The policy adopted Monday night also slashed the proposed fee schedule for a commercial event by more than 75 percent.

"We came down in price and up in control," said Commissioner Mary Ann Moore. "It wasn't the money we want, but we want to control how often these groups use our parks ... and cut off the Open Space."

The city has identified 15 parks eligible to host up to two high impact events per month. The list includes the bay front from West End Beach to Clinch Park beach plus Hull Park, Sunset Park, East Bay Park, Clancy Park, the Senior Center, F & M Park, the Grand Traverse Commons, and Bryant Park.

The policy defines a high impact event as one that requires the use of city staff; sells alcohol; requires significant infrastructure such as stages and tents, or is a for-profit venture.

The policy gives control over most "high impact" events to the city manager who can reject a proposed date or move a festival to a more appropriate space if he considers it a "burden" on the park, city staff, or surrounding area.

Some commissioners called use of the word "burden" too vague but Commissioner Barbara Budros defended giving the city manager discretion.

"People want the parks open so we don't have things jammed back to back," she said.

The city commission must approve any festival lasting longer than three days and individual commissioners can also request a vote on any other high impact event.