Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Maifest organizers' plan questioned

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        COVINGTON — One of two men who can decide the fate of the annual Maifest celebration does not think organizers are doing enough to manage the anticipated crowds.

        Assistant City Manager Tom Steidel has two weeks to rule on the permit application by the MainStrasse Village Association (MSVA) to hold the three-day celebration May 19-21. He said Monday he plans to meet this week with the MSVA and the MainStrasse Neighbors residents organization.

        The goal: prevent a repeat of last month's Mardi Gras festival, in which residents say revelers urinated in yards and littered streets.

        Mr. Steidel or City Manager Greg Jarvis can issue the permit, and the MSVA can appeal a rejection to City Commission.

        “I don't think there's any attempt to manage the growth,” Mr. Steidel said of the application. “Their plan is business as usual. We just can't keep growing this festival crowd. At some point, the neighborhood is going to rebel, I think.”

        The application the MSVA filed Monday estimates attendance at around 300,000 for the three days.

        MSVA President Kathie Snyder said attendance has actually decreased from about 250,000 in 1998 to around 200,000 last year.

        She said a city proposal to move some activities west to take better advantage of Goebel Park on Philadelphia Street — and away from the business district — doesn't make sense.

        “With our association, the focus has always been on the businesses,” Ms. Snyder said. “If we have to (move west) to make Maifest happen, we'll do it, but it doesn't make sense to move the festival deeper into a residential zone.”

        Leaders from the city, MSVA and MainStrasse Neighbors have met three times since Mardi Gras. This year Maifest plans include:

        „Spreading out food and alcohol booths west toward Goebel Park and Philadelphia Street. Mr. Steidel said that could eliminate congestion at Sixth and Main streets.

        „Giving MainStrasse residents exclusive parking at the Fifth Street Center and the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau lot on Philadelphia. Rachel DeLughish of the Covington Community Center said residents had to battle vendors for those spots in the past.

        „Closing Main Street, Bake- well Street from Fifth to Seventh and Philadelphia from Fifth to Sixth.

        „And providing up to 70 portable toilets. In addition, garbage cans and cardboard trash containers will be place near booths and festival perimeters.

        The proposals met with opposing opinions from two residents who sat about three feet apart.

        Wilma Cook said it is unfair to link Maifest with Mardi Gras, while Dawn Ramsey said the city has done little to address problems with parking, litter and portable rest rooms.


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