LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4)- The organizer of the Littleton Main Street Block Party has cancelled the favorite summer event. It's a tradition dating back more than a decade in the community.
"It's a bureaucratic nightmare," Greg Reinke, President of the Historic Downtown Littleton Merchants (HDML), said. "I don't want to compromise the show."
Reinke explained the Block Party started 14 years ago as a way to showcase the many restaurants and shops downtown Littleton has to offer. Main Street shuts down, five stages with five bands are put up along the street, and a variety of attractions entertain crowds of thousands.
"It's the best damn party there is," Reinke told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann.
To get permits for the event, Reinke has always worked with Littleton Fire. However, South Metro Fire Rescue absorbed the department earlier this year and with that came new policies, regulations and fees.
"Our permit was $150," Reinke said. "Now it's $1,500."
South Metro Fire explained the fees are for costs associated with a special use permit – which covers plan review and the pre-event inspection – and the pyrotechnics permit – covering inspections, oversight during the fireworks show, and inspection the following morning.
"For 15 years we've never had a problem. Never had an incident," Reinke said.
On top of that unexpected fee increase, Reinke added, he got into a brief dispute with the City of Littleton over other changes that would increase his costs by upwards of $20,000.
"They have these policies in place," he said. "Instead of 30 portable toilets, we have to have 200. And 64 wash stations -- we usually have six! Then we had issues over whether or not we could have water barrels to hold down the tents. Now we have to have concrete blocks that weigh 500 pounds. Now we have to get a forklift. What's that cost?"
"All the things we've budgeted over the years, and we've done it for 15 years we know how much it costs," he continued, "now, all of a sudden, costs are going through the roof."
Reinke explained city officials were "great" and "awesome" every time they met to talk or ran into a problem. His biggest gripe is with South Metro Fire.
"I never met with one fire official except for the two kind receptionists," he said, adding SMFR declined his requests for a meeting. "All we had to do was sit down and talk for 15 minutes."
The nail in the Block Party's coffin – South Metro requires a 20-foot-wide right-of-way down Main Street. That means, according to Reinke, there would be no room for the five stages.
"So, where do I put the bands?" he questioned.
Reinke said the parking lot of his store is an option, like when the Block Party first started, but it is an unfair option to the other merchants.
"Sure, I'll gladly put it in my lot," he said. "But who do you think benefits from that?"
Reinke said he had to scrap plans for the 15th annual Block Party because there simply wasn't enough time to come up with a backup plan.
"Maybe we do have to look for a park or maybe we do have to go somewhere else," he said. "It may be that the Block Party is too cool and too big to be here."
South Metro Fire Rescue and the City of Littleton shared the following statements on the canceled party:
From South Metro Fire Rescue:
South Metro is certainly sorry to hear that the Littleton Block Party has been cancelled. We want all of our citizens, businesses and municipalities to feel supported so that we can continue to help events such as these be successful and safe for our community.
Our permit requirements are based on the International Fire Code. In this case, there were two permits that were required, and the costs related with these permits are to cover cost associated with:
o Special Use Permit ($483) -- which covers plan review and the pre-event inspection
o Pyrotechnics Permit ($1,123) – which covers plan review, pre-event inspections, oversight during the display, suppression unit standby, and a post-event inspection the morning following the display.
These are fees that are assessed to all municipalities throughout South Metro's District.
It is extremely important that we continue to ensure that events are safe for our citizens and our communities, which is why our process for plan-reviews, inspections, oversight during fireworks is critical.
We value our relationships with our community and remain committed to working with Mr. Reinke, as well as others, to ensure that any events held within our district continue to take place so that the public can enjoy them.
From the City of Littleton:
City of Littleton Notified that Main Street Block Party is Cancelled
On Monday, May 13, the City of Littleton was notified by the Historic Downtown Littleton Merchants (HDLM) association that the Main Street Block Party, scheduled for Saturday, June 8, was being cancelled.
The City of Littleton notified HDLM on Friday, May 10 that all permits required for the event by the city were approved. Payment of the $150 permit fee was received by the city on April 9. South Metro Fire Rescue approved permits for the event on Thursday, May 9.
"It came as quite a surprise to learn that the Block Party was cancelled," said Littleton Communications Director Kelli Narde. "We met with the HDLM President Greg Reinke on January 8 and on many occasions afterward to review the new permit, offer our staff assistance, and answer any questions. We had no idea a cancellation was being considered. We'll continue to support the downtown with events that benefit the merchants and that residents enjoy."
"The city council has always supported the HDLM and the Main Street Block Party by providing police officers and public works employees at no charge to Mr. Reinke or HDLM. These employees close the streets, keep the area clean, and ensure it is safe for all attendees. We ratified our 2019 budget in October 2018 and approved these same commitments to the Block Party. It's really disappointing that our residents and our downtown merchants will miss out on this fun, community event," Brinkman said.
In 2018, the cost of overtime for police, fire and public works to staff the event was $18,310. In 2019 it would have been $16,593 for police and public works. All Downtown Littleton events sponsored by the City of Littleton will go on as planned including: three Little Jam concerts in Bega Park, the Littleton Twilight Criterium, the Candlelight Walk and the Elf Crawl. Western Welcome Week has notified the city that all of its events will go on as planned in August.
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