Village tables Vintage Weekend requests

Police chief raises safety, staffing concerns
by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – Village officials need some answers before they sign off on a list of requests for the 24th annual Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival in September.

The Village Board Monday tabled approval of street closing, walkway permit and police escorts from organizers of the event after learning that Police Chief Michael Meeusen has some concerns about the scope of the requests.

The board did approve the request for a banner to hang over downtown, from The Paddock Club to the National Exchange Bank from Friday, Sept. 18 to Monday, Sept. 21, as has been the practice in the past.

“He has some staffing concerns,” Village President Alan Rudnick said, referring to Meeusen.

The police chief was not at the meeting, and representatives from the Vintage Festival admitted that they had not contacted the chief or discussed their requests with him before the meeting.

Mike Korneli, event chair for the festival, did concede that, “This year is going to be a much bigger event. We’re bringing in people much earlier than usual.”

The Osthoff Resort will be the host hotel for the festival this year, Korneli said, which led to a change in the request for the street closing for the Gather on the Green show.

The street closing, from 2:30 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19, would be for a longer stretch of Lake Street than in the past, and several trustees had concerns with that, as well as a request for a rally car tour that would start Saturday morning from the Lake Street walkway and Osthoff Avenue.

“Saturday morning is busy,” in the village, Trustee Michael Wolf pointed out. He noted that the Farmer’s Market will still be going on there and that guests at The Osthoff would likely be using the walkway and street then as well.

Korneli explained that the morning rally would be a timed event, with cars leaving individually at regular intervals and not all in one group. “Every two minutes a car moves out into traffic, just like regular traffic,” he said.

Several board members questioned whether the increased street closing for the car showing would block access to other resorts in the village.

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there might be weddings at the Osthoff or Victorian Village,” that Saturday, Trustee Pam Garton said. “The two issues I’m concerned about are the protection of the walkway and the closure of streets down there. We’re being more careful about that.”

In a memo to the board, Meeusen outlined staffing costs that would be required for the requests from the festival organizers.

He said a police presence would be required during the rally tour Saturday morning, at a cost of $260 for the first two hours and $130 an hour if more time is required.

The festival organizers requested a police escort for the parade of race cars from Road America to the village at around 2:45 p.m. Saturday and back to the track around 4:30 p.m.

Meeusen said the estimated police cost for those escorts would be $600.

“These numbers are only estimates as I was not contacted by anyone for the event so I haven’t been able to work on scheduling. Additionally, the Saturday morning rally is new and has not been discussed with me at all so I have no idea what their plan is for the event,” Meeusen wrote the board.

Meeusen also advised that the village should deny the request for an expanded street closing.

“This event has always been held on Lake Street between Square Street and Elm Street,” he wrote. “Over the last few years we have tried to create no more events on Lake Street between Elm and East streets because the residents are affected a number of times already throughout the summer with road closures.”

“Someone has to find out what is going on that weekend,” Rudnick acknowledged. He added that there is enough time for event organizers to meet with the chief to clear up those issues before the board would have to issue the requested permits.

Rudnick reported that the Planning Commission has started working on creation of the village’s fourth tax incremental finance district for the Wolf Motorsports project.

The annexation of the property for the Wolf facility should come before the board for action at their next meeting, Rudnick added.

Wolf reported that the Public Works Committee tabled action on landscaping in the Village Square Park in order to get more estimates.

The flowers and landscaping would be in the area near the library entrance in an effort to address flooding and drainage issues there.

Village Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Jessica Reilly reported that the Northern Moraine Utility Commission is proposing a 50 cent rate increase for next year.

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