Archive for Thursday, October 4, 2007

Changes in store for Maple Leaf

October 4, 2007

It's just around the corner. The Maple Leaf Festival will be here soon and there will be some changes for the 50th anniversary this year.

Aside from the ban on animals -- targeted mostly at dogs as a result of a young girl being bitten in the face last year -- there will be other tweaks to Baldwin City's premier event. Those were mentioned at Monday's meeting of the city council.

Nancy Brown, a former council member who continues to serve on the safety committee as well as the Maple Leaf committee, dropped the biggest change.

"Major changes are with Baker's parking lot," she said. "Kids Zone is moving to the front of the library and we'll be using that parking lot for handicap parking."

Another major change is using Grove Street for trams instead of the usual High Street route. That's because of the ongoing Downtown Streetscape Project and what it will do to craft and food booths in the area.

Another minor change came up when Baker University Athletic Director Dan Harris asked the council during public comment for permission to use the parking lot near Harter Union for about three hours on Oct. 20. The area is normally closed.

Baker is inducting members to the sports Hall of Fame this weekend, but Green Bay Packer coach Mike McCarthy is unable to attend. McCarthy played football at Baker for two years and graduated in 1987. Instead, he will be inducted Oct. 20 during Maple Leaf. Baker plans a luncheon for him and several television stations and other members of the press are expected.

Harris explained that there will be numerous VIPs in town and they want to be able to have them park at Harter Union and walk to the Collins House for the luncheon. From there, the entourage will go to Liston Stadium for the induction ceremonies.

"We'd like to have the Harter Union parking lot closed for parking for Mike McCarthy, his family and the press," said Harris. "We'd be done by 3 p.m."

That's when Brown stepped in.

"If I get you 40 parking permits, will that make it work for you?" she asked Harris.

Problem solved.

"Sounds like you and Nancy need to get together and work things through," Mayor Gary Walbridge said to Harris.

At the end of the meeting, Walbridge also had some news for the council. He's been in contact with Skip Kalb who is heading up the Gardner Intermodal project which will bring thousands of jobs to the Gardner area. Walbridge said a meeting between him and the council will be set up and also assured the council that truck traffic from the intermodal won't be what people are fearing.

"He's going to get with us in November," said Walbridge. "Whoever is worried about 10,000 trucks coming down U.S. Highway 56, it's not going to happen."

Council Member Tony Brown, who chairs the safety committee, also told the council that they are looking into ordinances regarding pit bulls and vicious dogs. The subject came up at the last council meeting when resident Sarah Warmuskerken pleaded the case of her pit bull "Bunny." Baldwin police had cited her for having a pit bull which is outlawed in the city. Her court date is Oct. 11.

"We are taking this under advisement," said T. Brown. "We're looking at two ordinances. One is pit bull banning and the other is vicious dog. We are taking a long look at this."

Council Member Ken Wagner was concerned that the review wouldn't be in time for the court hearing.

"What I'd hate to see is this family having to make a decision on their pet and then see this changed," said Wagner.

Several city staff members assured Wagner and Wamuskerken that the court would grant a continuance based on the council contemplating changes in the ordinance.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.