The Menomonie city council voted down three event requests while approving another at its meeting Monday.
Three downtown events — Ladies Night Out, Rally in the Alley and Wine Walk — were voted against while the council approved a special event request for the playing of the Blue Caps vintage baseball game.
The three canceled events were to be hosted by Downtown Menomonie, Inc. failed by a 5-5 vote with Mayor Randy Knaack voting against the events. Jeff Luther, Eric Sutherland, Robin Sweeney, Nate Merrill and Chad Schlough supported the events, with Jan Traxler, Leland Schwebs, Mary Solberg, Ryland Erdman and Randy Sommerfeld voting against.
Council member Leland Schwebs said this is the type of year when these events should be passed on. Positive COVID-19 cases are rising in the county and individuals have ignored guidance from the health department, he said.
“When I go downtown and see the lack of discipline shown in people shopping, people in restaurants and what have you, the complete disregard...” Schwebs said. “Legal counsel has told us we can’t mandate this (mask wearing), and one way we can control it is to not allow these three events to happen.”
Ladies Night Out events had previously been scheduled for April 23, July 23 and Oct. 23. Downtown Menomonie Director Dustyn Dubuque said in a memo to the council that participating businesses would be put in control of the attendees visiting their stores. Curbside pickup and online shopping was to be encouraged and Downtown Menomonie board members and volunteers would help with curbside pickup and sanitizing of businesses.
The plan for Rally in the Alley was for it to be moved to the 503 Broadway parking lot to better maintain social distancing. The event, originally scheduled for May 15, had been postponed to early August.
Wine Walk was planned to be a staggered event with a limit to the number of people in each shift during the day’s event. Wine Walk was slated for late August after being postponed from its June 20 original date. Dubuque said the event would have followed safety recommendations from Dunn County Health Department Director KT Gallagher.
Council member Mary Solberg said she supports the idea of promoting downtown, but is torn that with current trends it would be difficult for the city to embrace these events.
“With our numbers going up and everything starting to look like it’s starting to be a crisis again, I’m really concerned about looking as if the city is maybe not being responsible,” Solberg said.
The council voted by voice vote in favor of allowing the Dunn County Historical Society to host the Blue Caps vintage baseball game at Phelan Park on Aug. 1. Solberg voted against the measure.
Schlough said the event brings fewer people in and it’s less likely people gather in large numbers. Merrill said the event is a way to get people involved in the community while being safe in an environment that is easier controlled.
“I do understand everyone’s hesitation with downtown,” Merrill said, “but I do think that this baseball game at Phelan Park will be probably not as popular, but I also think that it would be another good tool to get people out and about and it would be in a more controlled environment.”
Recommendations from the health department director are to limit the event to four teams, while providing social distancing and sanitizing procedures, Dubuque said. It was recommended that no concessions be served.
Fifth Ward seat remains vacant
The city council continues to look for an individual to fill the vacant seat on the council for Ward Five after the resignation of council member Faith Bullock. No applications have been received at this time for the open seat, Mayor Randy Knaack said.
“I did comb the neighborhood a little bit and talked with some individuals,” Knaack said. “There is some individuals who would consider it, but I think the timing is maybe with the family and other things they got going on, it may not be the best.”
The seat will remain open for the time being until an application is filed. The Fifth Ward representative seat is up for election in the spring of 2021.