Pizza Fest has easier path to permit than Taste of Park Ridge
Jacklyn Canova of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory delivers an iced chocolate truffle drink during Taste of Park Ridge 2012. Organizers had been required to have a contract with the city in order to run the event. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 1, 2012 6:22AM
PARK RIDGE — The upcoming Park Ridge Pizza Fest is, in many ways, modeled after the successful summer food-and-entertainment festival, Taste of Park Ridge.
But in one particular aspect it is shaping up to be very different.
Unlike the Taste of Park Ridge Board, which was required to submit proposals to the city and receive City Council approval of a detailed agreement before the first grill was turned on, Pizza Fest organizers have received no such requirements, nor the same scrutiny.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gail Haller said her organization, which is presenting the first-ever Pizza Fest on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8 in conjunction with Chicago-based Special Events Management, has agreed to reimburse the city of Park Ridge for any costs it incurs, but has not been required to bring a contract before the City Council.
“I’ve had to submit my special-event permit application, but we’ve not been asked to sign any kind of contract,” Haller said.
City Manager Shawn Hamilton, who joined the city on Aug. 1, confirmed that a special-event permit application was the only requirement. Hamilton added that organizers were presented with estimates of city expenses related to the event.
A letter of understanding between Special Events Management and the city of Park Ridge indicates the city will be paid $6,400 for emergency and Public Works services. Security will be provided by Special Events Management, according to the agreement.
Last year the city of Park Ridge for the first time sought proposal requests from companies interested in running the Taste of Park Ridge. Taste of Park Ridge, Inc., which operated the Taste for several years as an independent organization, was ultimately chosen by the City Council and a contract was drawn up and approved following a process that lasted more than five months. One of the terms of the contract was that the Taste cover the city’s expenses for emergency and Public Works services.
The special-event permit application includes a hold-harmless agreement, street-closure request, and applications for a temporary liquor license and food permit. There is also a $25 application fee and certificate of $1 million of general aggregate insurance required.
Mayor David Schmidt had been a vocal critic of past Taste of Park Ridge practices, particularly a lack of financial reimbursement to the city for staff time used. When asked why Pizza Fest organizers had not been required to have a contract with the city similar to that of Taste of Park Ridge, Inc., Schmidt told the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate, “That’s a good point and I’m going to inquire about that.”
Today (Aug. 24), Pizza Fest fest was added to the Aug. 27 agenda for the Committee of the Whole under the city manager’s report.
Schmidt said he initially believed Pizza Fest was part of the Chamber of Commerce’s regular First Friday events. Such events, which occur on the evenings of the first Friday of each month, feature a variety of themes and have incorporated a car show, live musicians and a type of business scavenger hunt.
“We have not been made aware of any expenditures incurred by the city with those events,” Schmidt said.
The mayor added that he just recently learned Pizza Fest would extend across two days.
Haller on Aug. 22 said Schmidt is among the volunteers and Chamber of Commerce staff who will be manning a beer tent during Pizza Fest.
Mel Thillens, 2012 Taste of Park Ridge chairman, and Dave Iglow, Taste president, each said they did not feel their group had been treated unfairly by the city because of the requirements that were imposed.
“It was just a difference of opinion that got blown out of proportion,” Thillens said.
He added that he hopes Pizza Fest organizers are “able to maintain good relations with the city because it’s difficult when you have controversy,” he said.
Iglow suggested the city have an established policy for addressing public events.
“One would hope special events would be treated the same way,” Iglow said.