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Rule changes urged for outdoor events

New London Parks and Rec reviews security, hours

By Robert Cloud

Parks and Rec Director Ginger Sowle has requested the city amend its policies for special events and outdoor concerts.

In a memo to the Parks and Recreation Committee, Sowle noted that 15 special events were held this summer in New London.

“I would say overall they all were a success, from a city standpoint and also for the groups that held the permits,” she noted in her memo.
Sowle met with event organizers after each event and discussed the “highs and lows.”

She also had meetings with Police Chief Jeff Schlueter, evaluated events of the past two years and looked at the city’s policies for special events and outdoor music.

“Currently, the ordinance allows for music to be played until 9 p.m. and then if a permit holder would like to extend time, they can apply for an extension to no later than midnight,” Sowle noted. “We had one event that had an extension until midnight this season. During that event, the Police Department recognized the need for additional enforcement, the Parks and Recreation Office and the New London Area Chamber of Commerce received several complaints about the noise. There was also a lot of garbage left on the streets around the parking area coming from the groups of people leaving the event at the end of the night.”

At a Nov. 7 meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee, Sowle proposed amending the ordinance to require permits for all special events.
Schlueter would review the permits and determine the level of security required.

“Having alcohol at outdoor music events increases the need for those additional officers,” Sowle said. “We have seen that is something we definitely want to include from here on out.”

Event organizers will pay fees for additional security.

Permits, hours

Organizers will need to obtain a permit, which is currently not required for outdoor music events, and they will also need to make changes in how they set up their event.

For example, Sowle said Hatten Park is bordered by a residential neighborhood along Werner Allen Road. She recommended the stage face the wooded area on the park’s west side, away from the road to buffer the noise of amplifiers and avoid disturbing neighbors,

“These bigger events have a lot more detail than a parade,” Sowle said.

She noted the need for public restroom facilities and utilities because the event may need power where none is currently available.

Sowle also said the ordinance should require events that are not city-sponsored to end by 10 p.m.

The ordinance will define city-sponsored events as those that are “run by, in partnership with or endorsed by the city of New London as a whole or the Parks and Recreation Department,” Sowle said.

“I think you are going to have trouble with that,” Parks Committee chair Bob Besaw said. “People are going to say how come the city can stay later and we got to quit at 10?”

“We’re the ones that provide all the services,” Sowle said.

“If the city can have something that goes until midnight with music and somebody wants to come in and they spend $20,000 for a band and they have to quit at 10, that’s not right,” Besaw said.

Sowle replied that ordinances in other communities require outdoor events to shut down by 10 p.m.

She pointed to her own experience attending a concert at Wrigley Field in Chicago, where the announcer told attendees they had to leave due to a city ordinance.

“I think if it’s not broken, why fix it?” Ald. Tim Robert said. “More regulation is just going to deter people from holding events and I think events are good for the city.”

“Part of this change was recommendations from the (police) chief because of the comments they got after 10 o’clock,” City Administrator Chad Hoerth said. “That’s the big reason for that change.”

A motion recommending that the ordinances on special events and outdoor music be amended passed on a voice vote.

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