Brainerd City Council reworks downtown event application, parking process
The city of Brainerd is revamping its event application process, particularly as it pertains to parking in city lots.
During the council meeting Monday, July 15, members of the Brainerd City Council passed a resolution stipulating that all event applications -- both downtown and elsewhere in the city -- must come before the council for approval.
This resolution included direction to staff to include portions of the application for recurring and annual events to designate when, where and at what times these events will continue to take place, so as to keep staff informed and avoid repetitive applications in the future.
In a committee prior to Monday evening, Brainerd Police Chief Corky McQuiston said the current arrangement could present an awkward situation for law enforcement officers. Not all event applications go before the council, nor affiliated commissions, which presents an unclear directive for law enforcement to be notified and enforce parking restrictions.These liabilities are especially pertinent for a city of Brainerd’s size where event parking restriction notices must be communicated to the public no later than 12 hours before the event.
Most city parking lots are open to the public, McQuiston noted, but parking restrictions for events may mean some motorists will be ticketed or towed if their vehicles are in those lots during the event’s allotted time. Annual events -- such as the farmers market, or the Lakes Area Music Festival -- are well established and known enough to avoid this confusion, but some events, such as “placemaking events” intended to bolster business downtown, may present a vague, uncharted situation for both cops and drivers.
As it was, these placemaking events did not have to gain approval from the council or the safety and public works commission, but pass through the standard application process via city staff -- this, McQustion noted, despite these events displaying amplified sound, multi-day tenures, concentrated gatherings and other features of large events.
Essentially, McQuiston said the city should look to clarify the issue to protect officers carrying out the law as it's currently written and prevent unduly punishing residents who may not be aware of recent and temporary parking restrictions.
“If we don’t have adequate notification, people show up, their car is towed, they’re mad and we’re left dealing with them,” McQuiston said. “I just want to make sure we don’t penalize people for doing the right thing by towing their cars.”
Council member Kelly Bevans agreed applications should all go before the council for approval as to keep all branches of city government on the same page, but added there could be a compromise -- a dotted line for annual and recurring events to brief the city on future arrangements so as to avoid a repetitive application process.
“That’s so some of our regulars don’t have to come back every time, but they do have to notify us they’re going to do it again on what dates and at what times,” Bevans said.
In other business, the council:
Approved an event street closure application for community pop-up campfires by Bridges of Hope. On Aug. 19, Fourth Avenue between C and D streets will be closed between 6-9 p.m. On Aug. 21, 12th Avenue between K and L streets will be closed between 6-9 p.m. And on Aug. 22, L Street between Sixth and Seventh streets will be closed 6-9 p.m. Council members included a direction to staff for the Brainerd Fire Department to send a firefighter around to ensure each fire is properly extinguished.
Approved an event application for the annual Mississippi River Canoe Days 9-10:30 a.m., Aug. 3, at Kiwanis Park.
Approved an event application for the Lakes Area Music Festival outdoor free concert for the public to be hosted on the public parking lot next to Sage on Laurel in downtown Brainerd. The event is scheduled to take place 5-8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 8.
Approved asphalt and concrete testing services with Braun Intertec Co. for the College Drive and South Fourth/Willow Street mill and overlay project in the amount of $16,696. According to city documents, these testing services consist of concrete field testing and asphalt laboratory and field testing along with plant certification. These are standard tests that must be performed to expend state aid funds.
Opted to take no action on exceeding expenditures of roughly $15,000 after union and wage negotiations resulted in higher expenditures than the $120,000 allocated for union and wage contracts in the 2019 budget. Council member Sue Hilgart said this decision stemmed from a decision to wait and see how pending developments pan out for the city’s finances in the coming months.
Voted to contract with auditing firm CliftonLarsonAllen LLP for 2019 budget auditing services in the amount of $46,020.
Authorized the Brainerd Police Department to make conditional job offers for two patrol officer vacancies. Tentative starting dates for both officers would likely be Sept. 19.
Approved the rezoning of 215 N. Third Street from a B-1 residential office district to R-2 medium residential district. The rezoning request was submitted on behalf of Agate Homes LLC. The purpose of the rezoning request was to better serve the property as the main residence and business office of the applicant as well as a second-floor residential rental unit. Additionally, the applicant wishes to build a garage on the property greater in size that which is allowed in a B-1 district.
Convened a closed session to discuss potential litigation under the False Claims Act. Council President Gabe Johnson and Mayor Ed Menk declined to comment. Per Minnesota state law on closed meetings, 13D.01 subdivision 3, “Subject of and ground for closed meeting. Before closing a meeting, a public body shall state on the record the specific grounds permitting the meeting to be closed and describe the subject to be discussed.”