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June 03, 2014 | 03:07 PMSoft drinks and snacks can be sold in Flat Iron Park during the Concert in the Park series, but the nonprofit chamber of commerce will have to do the selling.
The Geneva Lake Area Chamber of Commerce came to the Lake Geneva City Council on May 27 requesting permission to invite local businesses into the park to sell water, soft drinks, ice cream and popcorn.
After a debate and discussion of the city’s policy to discourage for-profit sales on public property, the council decided that the chamber could sell the refreshments at Flat Iron, but only if the chamber did it.
The concerts are popular events, and the chamber wants to provide refreshments and water for the concert-goers’ convenience.
Council members weren’t against that, but the chamber’s request ran up against a long-time city policy of not allowing for-profit businesses to sell on city property.
“Generally, you can’t sell in a public park,” said City Attorney Dan Draper, when asked about the rule.
However, he added, the request is for the convenience of the public.
In fact, the city now allows exceptions.
For example Maxwell Street Days, when businesses are allowed to sell their goods on city sidewalks, Draper said. And outdoor dining is done on city-owned rights-of-way in front of restaurants, as part of a permitting process.
And the carnival that comes to the city for Venetian Fest is a for-profit venture that sets up in city parks, he said.
However, the Jaycees, a nonprofit organization, sponsors Venetian Fest, and all money made by the Jaycees from Venetian Fest goes back to the city.
So, there is a rule and there are exceptions.
Alderman Jeff Wall asked where the line was drawn.
Clearwater Outdoor Sports wanted to sell on the beach during an event. A portion of the money collected at the event would go to a local food pantry.
The committee denied the request.
What’s the difference? Wall asked.
“Who sponsors the event?” Draper asked.
“Clearwater,” Wall replied.
“It’s a for-profit entity and our policy has been to forbid for-profit selling on public land,” Draper said.
Alderwoman Sarah Hill said the city’s policy is designed to steer visitors to the bricks-and-mortar businesses, rather than having tourist dollars going to mobile vendors set up on publicly-owned property.
Chappell said she is in favor of cart sales, but she also was concerned about how the businesses to sell at Flat Iron Park would be selected. Will they apply, or will the chamber select them, she asked.
Hill said she wasn’t opposed to allowing the sale of ice cream, popcorn and soft drinks at the concert series, but it should be sold by the chamber.
Chappell agreed. “As long as food is provided by the chamber, it’s OK,” she said.
In other business:
• The council also voted to approve a gift agreement between the city and Bertil and Ulla Brunk, founders of Brunk Industries.
The Brunks are donating $100,000 for construction of a performance pavilion
“This is a wonderful thing,” said Draper. “We’re building a beautiful building using private funding.”
The Committee for the Beautification of Lake Geneva put up a second $100,000 toward the project. The committee is currently seeking permission from the city to sell paving bricks to make up the difference.
They have yet to know exactly what the difference might be.
Once completed the new pavilion will be named the “Ulla E. & Bertil E. Brunk Performance Pavilion.”
• Jackie Gregoles will return to her former position as administrative assistant in the building and zoning department. She leaves the deputy clerk/treasurer position that was created two years ago after city electors decided to end the elected city treasurer position and replace it with an appointed treasurer.
The city council merged the deputy clerk and treasurer positions in an effort to streamline city operations and hold down costs.
City Administrator Dennis Jordan said he talked with Gregoles about the new position and the divided duties it involved.
He said Gregoles said she was more comfortable working in the zoning administration department.
Since that position was still open, the council’s personnel committee recommended that Gregoles be allowed to return.
The city will now advertise the opening for deputy clerk/treasurer.