City lays out proposals for park policy changes

Newly seated commissions weigh in on longstanding issues regarding festival frequency and noise complaints.

The Traverse City manager laid out a list of recommendations Monday night when it comes to changing the city's Parks and Public Land Use policy.

More than one hundred people came out to the meeting to hear the suggestions and voice their own opinions.

The plan outlined four specific changes: reducing the frequency of events, increasing fees, managing trash cleanup, and amending the noise ordinance.

So-called festival fatigue and noise related complaints have been ongoing issues, but residents said they want the new commissioners to take their time and not make any rash decisions.

â??It's a great way to start, right?â?? said Commissioner Tim Werner. â??You just jump in, talk to as many people as you can.â??

Before Monday's meeting, commissioners had heard a lot from the other side, from the people who are concerned about the amount of festivals held in Traverse City and the noise levels allowed.

â??People who say let's get rid of as much as we can and have it really quiet down there,â?? explained Werner.

New commissioner Gary Howe said he heard more from people on the other side while campaigning.

â??Going door-to-door there were a lot of people who wanted us to be cautious about eliminating events because they're longtime residents and enjoy the change that's occurred in last ten years, or they moved here because of them,â?? said Howe.

City Manager Jered Ottenwess broke down the details of the city's proposals, which include limiting the number of high impact events held at the open space and eliminating festivals on summer holiday weekends, barring July fourth for the National Cherry Festival.

The city is also looking at boosting several fees for festivals.

City staff would like to appoint a liaison to help enforce regulations during events which would not require a change to the current Parks and Public Land Use policy.

â??It seems the city closes down on Friday, and comes back on Monday to reevaluate after the fact. So it's good to hear that's going to be included,â?? commented one resident.

More than a dozen people lined up at the podium for public comment.

â??There are a lot of people downtown who moved here, live here, and enjoy the events and what goes on.â??

â??The decisions you make can stop a train that's on a great track right now, with people coming here and enjoying our city.â??

Many people stressed the need for more time when it comes to changing policy, stating they want the new commissioners, as well as the old, to make an informed decision.

No final decisions were made at Mondayâ??s meeting.