Archive for Thursday, October 21, 2004

Parking a premium at festival

October 21, 2004

As usual, parking was at a premium in Baldwin during the Maple Leaf Festival.

Large crowds attending Saturday and Sunday's festival soon left few available parking spots near the downtown area.

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"I had one newspaper reporter tell me he came down to do a story on the Maple Leaf Festival and drove around for an hour looking for a place to park," said Baldwin Police Chief Mike McKenna. "He ended up having to pay somebody five dollars to park."

Parking availability within walking distance from the festival was scarce enough that several visitors decided to ignore no parking signs and zones. McKenna said the Baldwin City Police Department issued 31 parking tickets and towed two vehicles that had parked illegally.

Festival co-chair Jennifer Hayes said though the parking situation provided a few challenges to festival visitors, it could have been worse.

"There were no real big issues with it," she said.

This year, several neon orange no parking signs were posted prior to the festival in an attempt to keep vehicles parked along only one side of the street, which allowed emergency vehicles more room to navigate.

Parking, complete with shuttles to the festival, was also available at the west and north ends of town in school lots.

But in the end, there were still people searching for close parking.

McKenna attributed some of the parking scarcity to the large number of people that attended the festival this year.

"We felt that from past experiences, there was a record amount of people coming to the festival on Saturday, and a higher than average amount of people on Sunday as well," he said.

"We had a higher demand for traffic control Saturday, and a longer demand, than we've experienced at previous Maple Leaf Festivals," he said. "Officers were needed most of the day Saturday directing traffic along Ames, at Eighth and Ames and at Sixth and Ames."

He said officers from both the Baldwin City Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff's Department were needed to help with traffic control.

Though the crowds were large and traffic was congested, McKenna said, he thought the weekend went well.

"It was very successful in that there were no incidents of serious concern to the citizens or visitors to the city," he said. "We just felt it was a huge success for everyone."

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