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Scrima vetoes ordinance relating to city's special event street closures

Action made at request of Friday Night Live leaders

Feb. 12, 2013

At the request of the leaders of the downtown Waukesha Business Association's Friday Night Live committee, Mayor Jeff Scrima has issued a "friendly veto" on the recently approved Special Event Ordinance.

Scrima outlined in his veto message the parts that the Friday Night Live committee took issue with.

The ordinance states: "The time, size and nature of the Special Event shall not create an undue hardship or unduly interfere with commercial and business activities in the closed area or the immediate vicinity thereto."

Before the council approved it this week, Roger Igielski, president of the Downtown Business Association, made his intentions known on the ordinance.

"How will that be determined?" said Igielski, owner of Allo! Chocolat. "For example, if I believe that the Christmas parade street closing hurts my business, will my opinion cancel the event? I assume not, but there needs to be guidelines added to this statement for clarification."

City Attorney Curt Meitz said that "undue hardship would not be implemented on one noise complaint. But Scrima said the language is too vague and that it needs to be improved to avoidarbitrary and subjective decisions.

"The next city attorney might misinterpret thewording and bring about refusals when met with the relentless complaints of a few," Scrima said.

The Friday Night Live summer concert series (that has musical acts in front of downtown businesses Friday nights ) has been at the center of controversy for the last couple of years when Waukesha police decided to close selected downtown streets due to safety precautions.

Some property owners have voiced their opinions about the street closures because they say it's difficult to get to their business and that the amount of dates should be limited.

Advocates of Friday Night Live, on the other hand, said that the concert series should be more embraced because it brings foot traffic to downtown and has helped revitalize the area.

"In agreement with their request, I elect to exercise my mayoral friendly veto option in hopes of better ordinance clarity and that future events in our city will be run with greater success and efficiency," Scrima said.

Before Scrima issued his veto, Igielski told the Common Council that he fears that limitations could hinder the downtown.

"Please remember that the downtown has become a jewel for our city," Igielski said. "Many new businesses site our wonderful downtown events as reasons in deciding to open a business in downtown Waukesha. Most of you remember what our downtown was like 10 plus years ago.

"The renaissance hasn't happened by accident. Some of us are working very hard to improve the lingering impression that many people still have about thedowntown. I hope you don't do anything to jeopardize the continuous improvement that we've been experiencing.

"With two businesses announcing their closing in recent days (Beading Hearts Studio, 308 W. Broadway, and Wise Art Glass, 139 W. Broadway), you can see that for some businesses, the downtown hasn't revitalized fast enough for them to survive. I surely hope that more business closing announcements are not forthcoming, but I do know that more restrictions and fees are not the answer to business retention."

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