By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
The design for the new Wooster Green has been determined, so the city is working to nail down rules for how the space can best serve its role as a public gathering place.
The goal is for the open space at the corner of West Wooster Street and South Church Street to enhance the quality of life for Bowling Green residents, welcome visitors to the city, and increase commerce in the downtown.
It has been recommended that the space be free and open to the public, except when previously reserved.
The recommended rules (or policies) are as follows:
– Amplified music or sound shall not be used unless previously authorized by the governing board. Such use shall not occur past 10 p.m. on weekdays (Monday-Thursday and Sunday) and 11 p.m. on the weekend (Friday and Saturday). These times may be amended by the governing board.
– The sale and use of alcohol shall be done in accordance with applicable city ordinances and with the Ohio Revised Code.
– No one may use the space between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., unless previously authorized by the governing board or the municipal administrator.
– Vehicles shall remain on the access road, or another designed vehicular point-of-entry, unless authorized by the municipal administrator or governing board.
– Those reserving or using the space shall not drive any stakes or rods into the ground unless authorized by the municipal administrator. Restriction of this type of activity is recommended to protect underground infrastructure.
– Any hanging or securing of displays and/or decorations should only be done in a manner that will not permanently alter the physical condition of the space/structures or materially alter their appearance.
– The governing board or municipal administrator may make exceptions to any of these policies. In the case of the municipal administrator, if an exception is granted or allowed, he/she should inform the other members of the governing board in a reasonable timeframe of such exception along with some type of explanation as to why the exception was granted.
The following policy was suggested for reserving the space:
– The mayor/municipal administrator’s office is recommended to be responsible for keeping track of the use of the space (i.e. reservations) and assisting in calling meetings of the governing board. This includes maintaining a spreadsheet or some other mechanism for tracking when the space is open for reservations and not.
– A permit request form should be used for those wanting exclusive use of the pavilion. The exclusive use of the pavilion is recommended; however, the rest of the space should be left open for public use. The exception to that is if an organization is filing a special event permit for use of the Wooster Green for an event which would be open to the public. Further, it is recommended that only pavilion use permits and special event permits for the entire site submitted 30 days in advance be considered, which may be waived by the municipal administrator.
– A reservation fee should be applied and a security deposit of no less than $100 should be collected before any group may reserve the space (both of which may be waived by the municipal administrator and/or the governing board.) The security deposit may be used to return the space to pre-reservation state. An “a la carte” fee structure should also be developed for support from the city including, but not limited to: Public Works – garbage/recycling; verify or inspect requested location of tent/structure placement along with grounding mechanism; Police Division; Fire Division – any type of inspection that may be needed.
– Those reserving the space shall be responsible with cleaning the space of all garbage and recycling prior to vacating the space.
The governing board may amend, add, or delete any of these policies as they see fit. It was suggested that some sort of indemnification language be used, such as: The governing board may deny or revoke, in its sole discretion for any lawful reason, any request to use the space. The permit request form should include this statement along with certain indemnification language such as – “the applicant agrees to hold the city, the board and its respective officers, officials, city employees, harmless from any damages, costs or expenses that applicant may incur as a direct or indirect result of such denial or revocation.”
The committee recommends the following regarding the governing board:
– It should be comprised of five people – the municipal administrator (or his/her designee); a member of City Council; a representative of the 4 Corners Center; a downtown business owner; and a resident. It is recommended that the mayor appoint the members of the governing board, with non-ex officio members being appointed to two-year terms and abide by the current ordinance on term limits. The first set of appointments should incorporate some way to stagger the terms.
– The governing board should be allowed to vote on reservations/uses electronically, unless concerns were raised with a particular requested use.
– The governing board should meet at least on a quarterly basis, or as they deem appropriate once the space’s use and policies have become commonplace to the community.