At Monday’s City Commission meeting, commissioners will consider placing a moratorium on events held at St. Armands Circle Park during the height of the 2014 tourist season.
A proposed resolution would prevent any special events from being held in St. Armands Circle Park from February until April 20, 2014. The resolution is a response to a fear from landowners, merchants and residents on the Circle that special events cause added congestion and compete with local businesses during the busiest time of the year, according to documents included with the agenda for Monday’s meeting.
That resolution was drafted following a meeting between City Manager Tom Barwin and St. Armands residents and commercial landowners regarding a proposed ordinance that would regulate special events on city property. City staff is not expected to finalize the ordinance for consideration before February, so the resolution would serve as a temporary measure until a more comprehensive policy is in place.
The agenda documents state that St. Armands landowners, merchants and residents have requested a permanent ban on events in the park during the height of season.as part of the potential city ordinance regulating special events. In the past, the documents state, the city’s special event office has followed a similar policy of not allowing events in the park from February through April 15 or Easter, whichever came later.
An exception would be made for a Classic Antique Car Show on March 22, since it was scheduled before the commission considered the moratorium. The St. Armands Fine Art Festival is scheduled to occupy the park the weekend after the moratorium expires, an event some merchants voiced opposition to at November’s St. Armands Circle Association meeting.
Also scheduled for Monday’s meeting:
• City staff will ask the commission for direction regarding the city's sidewalk café ordinance. Two businesses — Gator Club and A. Parker's Books — have requested permission to place tables outside of their storefronts, but the current city regulations limit sidewalk cafés to businesses that offer food service. In October, the Downtown Improvement District voted in support of an expansion of the café ordinance.
• The commission will revisit its discussion regarding delaying a paid parking program at the Palm Avenue parking garage. The commission's previous discussion regarding the delay saw three commissioners vote against maintaining the current start date of Jan. 6 for paid parking, but no action was ever taken to actually postpone the start date.
• Commissioners will discuss a records request made regarding St. Armands Business Improvement District Chairman Marty Rappaport. Michael Barfield, a paralegal who works with the group Citizens for Sunshine, alleged that Rappaport was conducting governmental business on a personal email account, rather than his city-issued email account as is required for members of city advisory boards.
• The commission will again consider whether or not to continue funding Commissioner Susan Chapman's legal defense in a lawsuit alleging a Government-in-the-Sunshine Law violation. At the last meeting, commissioners agreed to fund Chapman's counsel through Dec. 2 as she explored her legal options.
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