With Christkindlmarket gone, how will Naperville allocate event funding?

 
 
Posted7/9/2019 5:30 AM

Some Naperville City Council members say deciding how to allocate grant money for special events is the most difficult choice they must make.

It appears the members of the city's Special Events and Cultural Amenities Commission feel the same way.

 

Commissioners on Monday refrained from making a recommendation on how the city should spend $70,000 unexpectedly freed up by the departure of the Christkindlmarket holiday event from the Naper Settlement.

The panel instead plans to meet again by early August to agree on a spending suggestion to forward to the council.

It's not common to have this much extra money in the fund, which is supported by a 1 percent citywide food and beverage tax, City Clerk Pam Gallahue said. Events that are given the dollars typically go off as planned and use what they're allotted, especially ones like Christkindlmarket.

"We've had events fall off the calendar, but not this significant," Gallahue said.

But some of the money made available when German American Events decided not to host Christkindlmarket in Naperville for a fourth year already has been reallocated.

Roughly $15,000 will pay for police, fire and public works services for the WGN Block Party, set for 6 to 10 a.m. Friday at the Dandelion Fountain at Webster Street and Jackson Avenue along the Riverwalk. That leaves $55,000 -- money for which the commission is considering three alternatives.

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Chairman Melvin Kim said the commission could recommend the city revisit applications received for the 2019 funding cycle and dole out the money to existing grantees or organizations that originally were denied. He said the other options are spending $52,000 to pay for police, fire and public works services for 10 events for which the cost so far is partially covered; or doing nothing with the extra money and allowing it to be spent as officials see fit during the next full funding cycle in 2021.

Timing and fairness are the top issues commissioners cited with making a new funding recommendation now.

While one organization -- Little Friends -- sent a representative to Monday's meeting to request more money to expand displays during a holiday parade, other groups didn't take the chance to pitch their ideas.

Jason Altenbern, Little Friends' vice president of advancement, said the nonprofit seeks $25,000 to rent and install extra lighting at nine locations downtown and along the Riverwalk that won't already be brightened by a display run by the Downtown Naperville Alliance.

Working with the park district and the downtown alliance, Altenbern said, the idea is to light up even more of the business district to make it "truly special to be in downtown Naperville."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

While Commissioner Deana Losurdo said she would like to fund the Little Friends request and the WGN Block Party, then move on to considering 2020 applications, others weren't ready to take action.

"I don't feel comfortable making a decision this quickly," Commissioner Jacqueline Clermont said.

The commission's next meeting is yet to be scheduled. Its recommendation won't be the final decision, but will inform city council members as they choose how to use the money.

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