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Algonac council considers updates to event ordinance

Photo courtesy of Blue Water Healthy Living file photo Algonac City Attorney James Downey.

Safety and security are a priority today 

By Barb Pert Templeton

Members of the Algonac City Council are considering introducing an ordinance amendment to Chapter 4 Amusements and Entertainment, Article III Special Events.

A Jan. 17 meeting had officials discussing the issue along with input from City Attorney James Downey, who wrote up the changes. The formal adoption of the amendment is expected to be further discussed and voted on at the council’s next meeting in February.

The amendment update was introduced in order to clarify a number of issues such as how permits will be issued, who schedules the events, expenses to the municipality plus safety and security at the events. 

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City Councilman Michael Bembas asked Downey what brought about this need for an update

He replied that it’s simply the fact that times have changed, it’s been 30 years, so there are some improvements that could be made to bring things up to date.

Councilman Corey Blair said he thought it was time and he thinks due diligence was done to revamp the ordinance. 

Photo courtesy of Blue Water Healthy Living file photo
The annual Algonac Pickerel Tournament that brings thousands of people to town is an example of a special event that requires additions security and safety precautions.

Mayor Pro Tem Ray Martin said he will be looking over the proposed amendment over the next few weeks.

“I’ve got two weeks yet to really decide how I feel,” Martin added.

Bembas asked how the new ordinance compares to other communities with similar ones

Downey said that was a good question and in fact he looked at lots of other communities’ ordinances while putting this one together. He said he also had input from the Algonac city administration plus both the police and fire departments

“In 1988 no one in their wildest nightmare would think of people driving through restricted areas (during public events),” Downey said.  

Bembas asked for clarification on the city’s role when incidents occur stating the city shouldn’t override the sheriff if an incident occurs.

Downey said the council will have permit approval and if they find things missing or undesirable on the application, they can deny it. 

Blair said while he understands the changes due to so many years passing between updates, he doesn’t want the liability to be left with the council.

“Regardless of how you act there’s an immunity that you have in your job, you have to exercise your best judgement and that’s where it stops,” Downey said.

Bembas then stated that it’s important for officials to recall an incident in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 2021 when a man drove through a crowded parade route killing six people and injured 67 others, including a child.

“Then you see why this is so necessary,” Bembas said. “We watched the trial and everything which was madness, he was upset at his girlfriend that day and lost his temper and drove through the parade.”

Bembas offered to share links to news articles about the event and the subsequent trial in Wisconsin with other members of the city council.

Captain Mike Pohl with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office spoke briefly stating his office reviewed the ordinance and they support it and agree with the language related to the safety aspect of things.

“In short I don’t know why somebody wouldn’t want to go ahead with this and just be more proactive for the safety of the community,” Pohl said. 

Algonac Fire Chief Joseph Doan told the council that he doesn’t see why anyone wouldn’t want the barrier safety measurers put in place for events. He said they’ve had some close calls

“The biggest concern is the safety of the residents and those who are attending the event with the traffic,” Doan said. “We’ve had some near misses in the past, last year we had a couple vehicles that drove through the midway while the carnival was going.”

He said if he recalls correctly Sheriff King was almost struck by a vehicle during the parade because the secondary streets were not properly closed off. 

“I think it’s the safest thing to do with the best interest of the community,” Doan said.

The council then unanimously approved the introduction of the update Amendment to Chapter 4 Amusements and Entertainment, Article III Special Events. The item is expected to be on the city council’s next agenda where formal adoption of the changes will be voted on.

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