Concord looking to streamline planning process to boost events in city

Monitor staff
Saturday, October 07, 2017

The process to organize events like Market Days and the Concord Farmers Market may soon become a lot smoother.

The Concord City Council will decide whether to change several licensing ordinances and remove others during their next scheduled meeting. According to Ad-hoc Events Committee chairman and City Councilor Byron Champlin, the committee discussed earlier this year ways to streamline the process of obtaining licenses to hold events in the city. The changes will be critical to helping energize interest in the city, he said.

Event promoters and organizers said the changes are long overdue and will make planning some of the city’s biggest events much easier.

“We were happy to be involved in the process,” said Intown Concord events and communications coordinator Kate Fleming. Intown, which puts on Market Days, was one of the parties tapped to talk about ways event planning could be streamlined in the city.
“You have to be proactive when putting on events that shut down the entire city, but this just doesn’t benefit Market Days; it’ll make it easier for more events to be held in Concord, which is what everyone wants,” she said.

One of the biggest changes would shift the power to authorize street closures for events from the city council to the city manager. According to a report put together by Deputy City Manager Carlos Baía, obtaining authorization for an event-related street closure is viewed as a “significant delay” for event promoters, as the city council typically only meets once a month.

Fleming said the street closure process is just one of the several steps Intown faces when planning for an event like Market Days; in fact, she just put in a request for next year’s event, which closes down a large portion of Main Street.

“We’ve already started brainstorming for next year,” she said. “It was just one thing to take off the list.”

In addition to street closure requests, event organizers also have to submit multiple permits to various departments; for Market Days, a permit has to be submitted to the city’s codes, parks and recreation, police and general works departments. Under the new changes, those permits would all go to the city manager, who would then distribute them.

Tim Sink, president of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, said the current system is viewed as “clunky and slow” by event organizers, and praised the city’s willingness to rework the laws.

“It was pretty clear the process was more complicated than it had to be,” he said.

Many of the changes will also get rid of several ordinances in their entirety. Some, like the ones governing dance halls, billiard parlors and amusement centers, would be removed because they have been obsolete for years, Champlin said.

The city council is scheduled to meet on Tuesday.