The days of Geneva aldermen voting on requests for every special event to be held on a public right of way are drawing to a close.
The committee of the whole voted this week to let city workers handle approvals for low-impact events. It should lead to quicker decisions on events, according to a memo on the proposal.
It also agreed with a recommendation to limit most walks and races to four courses with which Geneva police, fire and public works staffs have experience: at the Kane County Government Center, on the Fox River Trail, on Viking Drive and at Peck Farm Park. The routes don't cross state routes or disrupt downtown traffic.
"We have seen a definite uptick in requests to run here," said economic development director Ellen DiVita. But most want to have races on the weekends, and the police department doesn't have enough workers on those days to monitor special events every weekend, according to Deputy Cmdr. Eric Passarelli.
Under the proposed new system, events would be rated as having high, low and medium impact. Criteria include the length of the event, the days of the week on which it is held, number of people attending, whether it is open to the public and how much city help is sought.
High-impact events, such as Swedish Days and Festival of the Vine, would still need city council approval.
Medium-impact events would also come to the city council. But two of them, the Multisport Madness Triathlon and the Viking Sunset 5K races, would be grandfathered in. "Those are very complicated (routes), but we have run them so long we know what to do," Divita said, describing them as going "like clockwork."
She noted that races along the Fox River Trail, which are coordinated by the Fox Valley and Batavia park districts, are limited now to one per day anywhere on the trail.
Events such as Gardenology, Pumpkins for a Cure, and parades are typically medium-impact, according to the memo.
Low-impact events would include sidewalk sales, tag days such as the Kiwanis' Peanut Day fundraiser, and when the Lions Club hosts the free hearing and vision screenings bus.
The memo said the city receives an average of 60 requests for events annually.
Alderman Chuck Brown voted against the measure because the low-impact events won't get mentioned during the council meetings, which are televised.
"The few minutes it takes us to give the publicity and approve, it is well worth it," he said.
The organizations are usually invited to give a short presentation, and aldermen have been known to make donations on the spot.