Council preps for July 4th

If you’re headed to Betts Park, you may want to watch where you park.

A proposal from city personnel to prohibit parking along Ludlow St. from the Rt. 6 ramps to the streets terminus at Betts Park lead to discussion and eventual compromise at Monday night’s meeting of Warren City Council.

The original proposal would have prohibited parking along the roadway, but allowed parking on the grass areas where residents have traditionally parked for Fourth of July fireworks as they are state controlled.

Councilmember Maurice Cashman pointed out traffic flow was reduced to a single lane during the recent Gus Macker tournament. He also cited worries about such a situation prohibiting access to the park by emergency services.

On the other hand, Councilmember Joe Sprentz worried eliminating parking would push the congestion into residential neighborhoods near the park.

Council member Sam Harvey suggested the city “split the difference” on the issue and designate a single side of the roadway as a no parking zone.

City of Warren Police Chief Raymond Zydonik recommended designating the west side of the roadway if only one side received a no parking designation, as the east side provides a wider berm.

Council unanimously passed an ordinance prohibiting parking on the west side of Ludlow St. from the Rt. 6 ramps to Betts Park.

The ordinance will be in effect year round and not just during events at Betts Park.

Ordinances do not take effect until ten days after they are published for the public, but should be in effect for Fourth of July events at the park this year.

Council looked at a number of other items concerning Independence Day events in the city.

Council unanimously approved permission for the Fourth of July Committee to provide rides during the holiday at Betts Park. By city ordinance, a $1,000 bond must be posted to provide the rides, which has been deposited.

Approximately six to eight rides, including inflatable attractions, will be set up at the western end of the park near the bocce courts.

A plan to protect downtown plantings during the Fourth of July parade was unanimously approved.

Council elected to erect wooden posts with patriotic pennants to serve as a cordon around downtown planters.

Last year, the city utilized yellow construction fencing to protect the plants and received complaints over its aesthetic appeal.

Warren Main Street President Dan Ristau requested council install an open container law during the Fourth of July parade, noting he would like to see a year-round ordinance.

“The parade is for kids,” Ristau said. “I don’t understand where and when the drunk took over our parade.”

Ristau pointed to the increased burden on city police saying he would be amenable to just banning outdoor drinking during the parade.

“If we can’t (have) one for the whole year,” Ristau said. “At least one for the parade.”

City Solicitor Andrea Stapleford said putting an ordinance in place is possible if council wants to proceed, but not in time for this year’s parade.

“I don’t think it’s something we can have in place for the Fourth of July,” Stapleford noted.

Fourth of July Committee member Wally Post noted that, while the committee felt there had been a problem in the past, it was largely resolved. Post noted the committee had approached local businesses with parking lots last year asking them to allow usage of their lots as family and handicap parking, thereby reducing opportunities for tailgating.

Ristau disagreed, citing the fact bars are still open along the parade route.

“I don’t find any amount of alcohol acceptable,” Ristau said. “It’s a childrens’ day… I’m asking you to show some leadership here… whether it’s one or two doesn’t matter… Why do we need to pop a few beers at nine in the morning? What the hell’s wrong with people?”

Harvey asked Ristau, “When did the Fourth of July become a childrens’ holiday.”

Ristau responded the parade is for children.

“Would you like to see the City of Warren become a dry town?” Mayor Mark Phillips asked.

“I’m joking, but yes,” Ristau responded, going on to note his request was only for the parade.

“Everybody at this table, do not want children around alcohol,” Phillips noted. “But your wording implies a lack of concern, a lack of leadership. We’ll look into it (an ordinance).”