Each day the ill-timed moratorium prevents special events from taking place in Greenport’s Mitchell Park is another day of opportunity wasted. With every summer weekend that passes, the village could be raising revenues from groups looking to use sections of the park, while attracting more people who could shop in businesses that are still struggling to rebound from a historically cold, and thus financially difficult, winter.
Still, Mayor David Nyce warned this week that it could “take months” before a policy is developed about how, or if, mass assembly permits should be issued for events in Mitchell Park. Months? If? Why?
This isn’t about your village board being forward-thinkers. The moratorium and plan to create a blanket policy for permit applications are reactionary measures. After the board voted to pull the permits of two church-sponsored events, those churches responded by threatening lawsuits. The village then chose to reinstate those particular permits, but called a timeout on issuing any permits moving forward.
It just so happened the timeout, which took the form of a moratorium on all events not sponsored by the village, was approved unanimously on June 23, immediately after the first official weekend of summer. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill — and at the wrong time. If this really is that big a conversation, it should happen in the fall and winter. And last we checked, most, if not all, events that are held in the park through mass gathering permits don’t take up the entire park; there’s still plenty of space open to those looking to picnic with the family, ride the carousel or simply take a walk on the grass.
It wasn’t too long ago that the entire Mitchell Park property was just a blighted area in a once-proud yet struggling village. We’ve come a long way; let’s not allow small-town politics and short-sightedness to get in the way of advancement. In other words, don’t overthink it. And get moving.
This isn’t the only village in the U.S. that issues permits for private use of public spaces.