City Commission to Set Summer Event Stage Tonight

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Wine PourTonight at 7 PM, Traverse City’s City Commission is slated to make changes to the City’s event policy tonight. The Traverse City Record-Eagle report explains:

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.

You can review the proposed policy starting at page 55 of the Commissioner packet for tonight’s meeting. Here are a few observations and thoughts based on our reading of the policy:

  1. The policy defines High Impact events as those with one or more if the following: use of City personnel requested or required, significant infrastructure like large tents, stages and concessions like sale of alcohol. It recognizes that there’s really only one City park appropriate for High Impact events: the Open Space, which is limited to 4 High Impact events June – August. It states that all other parks may have a maximum of one High Impact event per year.
  2. The policy specifically exempts the National Cherry Festival and the Traverse City Film Festival from compliance. While it makes to ensure that these two anchors of TC’s summer fun are protected, it’s hard to argue that you are meaningfully addressing noise, waste and access to parks when you exempt the two events that make up about 75% of the proposed High Impact usage of the park.
  3. In our opinion, this is the kicker: Applications are decided on a first-come, first served basis. If the event’s permit is not violated and the event has no outstanding obligations, event organizers may make a reservation meaning that whatever events are approved for this summer are very likely to be the enduring summer events at our only public park appropriate for large events.
  4. There’s also new noise requirements but as the policy uses 3 decibels on the “C” scale, nobody we spoke with could translate into standard “A” decibels.

If you would like to email comments to all the city commissioners, use this email address: