The committee came before the city
council Tuesday evening with several requests revolving around
closing off streets in the downtown square area for the parade and
then later for six stages of entertainment. On two evenings it is
planned to have one or two beer wagons in the secured area. City
council members raised some serious discussion after the
sesquicentennial committee asked for the city's approval of plans
for the upcoming August celebration.
The downtown streets to be blocked for
a secured entertainment area are 1½ blocks of Sangamon Street,
beginning at Broadway and heading toward Clinton, and the area
around the courthouse square, from Broadway to Clinton and Kickapoo
to McLean streets. [Click here for map.]
The streets are to be barricaded from 6
p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 28, to 11 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 31. On the
Aug. 29 and 30 there will be one or two wagons selling beer from 5
p.m. to midnight in the secured area.
Greg Pelc from the sesquicentennial
committee explained various parts of the plans to the council. He
said the committee looked at how other communities have had success
at drawing and controlling large crowds. The planners have chosen
entertainment and how to handle the alcohol with input from what has
worked best for other communities, keeping families in mind.
Mayor Beth Davis, who heads the
sesquicentennial committee, said that they have made all their plans
with a focus on this being a fun, family time with educational
Pelc explained some of the committee's
research, strategies and decisions. The plan for the two evenings
when beer will be served is that people will buy a special
refillable mug and get a wristband to wear. The beer in the special
mugs is the only alcohol that will be allowed on the streets, and
drinking on the streets will be permitted only in the restricted
areas. The area includes all of the staged entertainment areas.
It is believed that allowing a larger
area will reduce the likelihood of altercations between inebriated
individuals, the presence of families will reduce the individual
consumption, and the heavy presence of security will keep things
peaceable and well under control.
Most of the council members, beginning
with Glenn Shelton, raised questions regarding how extensive the
area is that is reserved for alcohol consumption during two evenings
of the event. Concerns for family comfort, safety, liability, the
potential for underage drinking and the message that it sends to
young people were all bandied about.
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"So, do I understand that the drinking
is just in the fenced area?" asked Alderwoman Joni Tibbs.
Mayor Davis answered, "Yes, it is not
allowed in the park or any area outside the barricaded area."
Alderman Pat Madigan said: "I find it
disturbing how big of an area this is. It only takes one person
getting hurt. I would like to see a little more control."
Alderman Armbrust said, "I think you
are going to have more of a problem if you put them in a cage, if
you fence them in [as in a smaller confined area]." After a pause he
said, "I think we ought to just have a celebration."
Alderman Verl Prather said: "Can we
compromise. Can we contain it off in a different way; select areas?"
Also at issue were security and medical
and emergency access for people and property in the downtown area.
The committee worked with Police Chief Rich Montcalm and Fire Chief
Bucky Washam to make sure that safety and security would be in order
for those attending the event, business owners and those who live in
the downtown area.
Chief Montcalm reported that a large
force of T-shirted security volunteers, police officers, county
deputies and covert officers to prevent underage drinking is planned
to secure the event. There will be approximately 50 people providing
security in the downtown area each evening.
Chief Washam said that he has worked
with the committee, and they have positioned stages, worked out the
fire lanes. He thinks that they have it worked out to respond to any
potential medical or safety need at the downtown addresses. The fire
department will be the command center.
Bill Bates, attorney for the city, said
he sees three requests being presented to the city for approval:
1. Closure of downtown streets for the
2. Closure of downtown streets for
entertainment, including two evenings when alcohol will be served
3. Use of city property
hearing all of the plans and reasoning, most of the council members
were not prepared to give their consent just yet. The matter was
tabled to be discussed again in two weeks.