The Hastings City Council will implement several conditions for events involving the Ace Hardware parking lot after they learned of the situation at the Hastings High School Homecoming Parade last week.
Some 200 to 300 kids, cars and floats were in the parking lot, milling around, unsure of what to do, with no one in charge. And then, heavy rains hit, causing more disorder.
Jerry Bolthouse, president and CEO of Bolthouse Merchandising Corporation, stressed he was a supporter of the City of Hastings and its schools at Monday’s council meeting.
However, there were several problems apparent at the event in the ACE Hardware parking lot last week that needed to be in place for future events, not just the schools, he said.
He gave the council a letter with a list of problems and solutions which council members immediately said they would implement. City Manager Jeff Mansfield said they were great solutions the council would enact, adding, “it isn’t often we get the solutions to problems brought to us.”
The incident caught the city by surprise with the increase in the size of the parade this year, he said. He has already talked to Hastings Schools Superintendent Carrie Duits.
Several council members apologized to Bolthouse for the inconvenience and thanked him for his strong support of the city and its events, for example, providing dedicated parking spaces in the Ace Hardware lot for Thornapple Plaza entertainment events for $1 a year.
* No one was in charge of the event, with resulting confusion, and no one asked permission from him to hold the parade lineup in the parking lot.
Solution: A representative of the school/event should be present to give assignments, answer questions and with a certificate of insurance with ACE Merchandising named as the insured.
* No notice of the event was given to Bolthouse other than the date.
Solution: A plan for the event, with the parade line up, parking, a severe weather plan and time line would be given to all the parties involved.
*No control over traffic and parking of the cars resulted in parking in fire safety zones and other safety issues.
Solution: Close Boltwood or line up along East State or Railroad streets. Also, someone needs to direct traffic, both vehicles and people.
* With no direction, parked cars were blocking exits and drives, loading ramps and parking spaces leased to other businesses.
Solution: Approval for future events will be based on volunteers being present to direct parking. The group can charge for parking spaces, and previously, his company has matched the amount the parking raised.
* Trash left in the parking lot after the event was left for his employees to clean up, hampered by a dozen cars left there overnight.
Solution: Those holding the event would be required to clean up the parking lot after the event.
“We are strong supporters of our local school system and welcome school events into the downtown business area. All of us need to act as partners in promoting the great City of Hastings,” Bolthouse’s letter said. He has sent copies to the Downtown Hastings Business Team and Hastings area schools.