Madison city staff prep restrictions to downtown events

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MADISON (WKOW) — No matter the season, downtown Madison is a popular place for events.

Seemingly every weekend, there’s some kind of charity run, festival or other event that brings hundreds of people to town.

But some say continually hosting those events is putting a strain on city staff, having to help process permit applications for runs, walks or parades downtown.

Now, city staff members are looking at a new ordinance that would impact the way runs and festivals are organized downtown.

So Alder Mike Verveer says city staff want to create a new Downtown Zone, restricting events like that.

“From the perspective of city staff, these events cause tremendous traffic congestion, cause disruption to Metro Transit and also come with them police staffing issues,” Verveer said.

Even though there are already a lot of events that happen on State Street and around the Capitol Square that take up the city’s resources, business leaders say making this change would really hurt the way they make a living.

“Many of these downtown retailers are dependent on special events to draw people in,” said Tiffany Kenney with Madison’s Central Business Improvement District. “So a loss of special events downtown would be devastating for us.”

Kenney says around 70 percent of the shopping that happens downtown is driven by special events like Maxwell Street Days.

This new ordinance would change when roads can be closed, forcing some events to move away from downtown.

Moving forward, Verveer says the current plan is too harsh.

“My goal is to see if it’s possible to come up with an alternative proposal in time to be discussed at the next meeting on December 20th,” Verveer said.

One of his proposed changes is to grandfather in some of the longest running events.

The next step for this proposal will be the Downtown Coordinating Committee on the 20th.

Under the current language, the events won’t be cancelled outright. They’ll just need to be reorganized.

Francisco Almenara

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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