11/03/09 — City alters policy on parade cleanup

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City alters policy on parade cleanup

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 3, 2009 12:57 PM

A street closure policy that drew the ire of local veterans was changed Monday evening at the Goldsboro City Council's pre-meeting work session, but new guidelines for parade organizers will not just impact the Nov. 11 Veterans Day parade.

City crews will now be responsible for cleaning the streets after all downtown events, council members decided.

And Mayor Al King, not those hosting parades, car shows and street fairs, will be notifying merchants before the events take place.

The controversy began Oct. 22 when Military Order of the Purple Heart state commander Mike Burris said he was told by Goldsboro Police Department officials that members of the Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition would be responsible for cleanup duty after their upcoming parade.

But Monday, even before the council's work session, the issue was resolved, as City Manager Joe Huffman tasked the Public Works Department to do the work instead.

That fact did not, however, prevent the issue from being discussed by the board.

"I think most of us received some kind of a call about the veterans," King said.

"Is this (policy) new?" Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen then asked. "How old is this?"

"We have been following these guidelines for several years," Huffman replied. "But it was only taken to the council for formal adoption in June or July."

The policy was adopted unanimously by the council June 1 and established guidelines for closing streets downtown.

It requires the applicant -- no matter what their cause -- to meet a list of criteria that includes obtaining signatures from all property/business owners located within the street closing area that are directly affected by the request, obtaining written documentation from the North Carolina Department of Transportation approving the request if any portion of the request is located on a state-maintained street, contacting the city Planning Department to verify street ownership and providing a detailed written description of the events and activities to take place at the location of the street closing.

The policy also requires the applicant to ensure that alcoholic beverages are contained within private property boundaries, noise is contained as much as possible and the streets and sidewalk areas are cleaned immediately after the event.

At least, it used to.

The new policy, adopted Monday, no longer requires organizers to clean up after their event or obtain signatures before it.

"If we want (people) downtown, we need to make it as easy as possible," council member Bob Waller said.

King agreed.

"Parades are good. We can't discourage people who organize parades from having parades," he said. "Parades bring people downtown and anytime we can bring people downtown, we need to do it."

So the city will now be responsible for clean up.

And it's the mayor who will now walk the streets before each event, dropping in on local businesses to inform them of upcoming parades and the like.

"The merchants need to know, but my concern is, 'How do they find out?'" King said. "So staff will do it and I will help the staff. Just let me know when it needs to be done."

But the issue was not dropped after the work session.

Later in the evening, at their formal meeting, council members said the fact that the "misunderstanding" had occurred was unfortunate -- that they support the city's veterans 100 percent.

"Their is no conflict between veterans and City Hall," said King, a retired Air Force officer. "In military terms, we are in step."

And after the meeting, having been informed that the veterans were heard and their concerns resolved, Burris agreed with the mayor.

"It sounds good to me," he said. "Sounds like everything worked out just fine."

The Veterans Day parade will be held Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. along Center Street.