Conflicts in Blanding’s special events policy
by Kara Laws
Conflicts in the Blanding Special Events Policy were discussed at the March 27 meeting of the Blanding City Council. The policy was adopted by in October, 2016.
Councilwoman Cheryl Bowers requested that the topic be addressed.
The policy outlines how city parks and buildings can be used by the general public. It also regulates the type and size of events in city parks, and requires appropriate insurance for those who host large events.
The Special Events Policy states, “… alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, fireworks, discharge of firearms, weapons, archery, or dangerous devices are prohibited at all Blanding parks and facilities.”
The policy requires that all renters of Blanding City property adhere to the standards. If you choose to have a concert in one of the parks, your guests are not allowed to consume alcohol or fire guns.
Councilwomen Bowers suggested a change to the paragraph prohibiting these items, specifically regarding the consumption of alcohol. She said it is too restrictive and added that too restrictive is not helpful.
Bowers suggested the city instead allow weapons, the consumption of alcohol, and amplified sound on a case-by-case basis.
Mayor Joe B, Lyman said he would like people to feel like they can bring their events to Blanding. He expressed most of the same sentiments as Bowers, stating that he would like events to flourish in Blanding.
As council started a discussion of pros and cons, whys and why nots, City Attorney Kendall Laws raised his hand. He reported that state law prohibits the consumption of alcohol and the presence of firearms in public buildings and parks.
Laws read two sites outlining the law. Regardless of the desire to allow large events to BYOB (bring your own beer), it is not possible with the current event spaces within Blanding or the surrounding area.
Bowers asked if exceptions could be made and suggested that an exception is made for the Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW) banquet each year. The SFW banquet brings multiple unloaded firearms into the San Juan Wellness Center every year for auction.
City Manager Jeremy Redd assured Bowers that he had no prior knowledge of the regulations. Redd said the city did not mean to make exception for the SFW banquet if exceptions needed to be made.
Three residents began to discuss the need for a large, private, space that could host these types of events without the regulations. Several ideas for such a place are in the beginning stages.
In light of the new information about state regulations, the council agreed to look deeper into the issue before making a decision. Bowers and Lyman expressed the desire for Blanding to be a place where events are accommodated and not hindered.
Bowers brought up another park-related question near the end of the meeting. With the parks being used for spring sports, she expressed concern that the scoreboards are not working, the bathrooms are not clean, the nets to catch foul balls are not in place, and maintenance needs to be completed.
Redd said the trucks needed to install the nets are under repair, so the staff has not had the opportunity to place the nets. He is aware of the scoreboard issue and parts have been ordered.
Redd expressed a hope that the community and school will do their best to help keep the ball fields in good condition. Redd said he “wished the school district treated us as well as they expect us to treat them.”
Redd explained that the schools are responsible for clean-up of the fields, dugouts, and restrooms after each use. That includes sweeping the dugouts, picking up trash, cleaning the restrooms, and putting trashcans where they can be picked up. These things are currently not being done.
Council suggested the city and the school may need to work closer to maintain multi-use areas. Bowers said she would let the parents know what she learned and thanked Redd for the information.
Since the meeting, the scoreboards have been fixed and are fully operating. The nets will be pulled back before the upcoming home game. Teams, coaches, and parents are encouraged to clean up after themselves following their games and practices.
As Redd said later in the week, “The bottom line is we need everyone to help out and do better so that we can keep nice fields that everyone is proud of.”
In other news, the fire department gave their annual report. Fire Chief Corey Spillman showed images of fires, trainings, and calls from 2017.
Currently, there are 17 active firefighters in Blanding. All of the firefighters are volunteers. Two firefighters are women and Spillman stated they are some of his very best. Six are Red Card-certified and nine are state-certified.
Blanding hosts a well-trained fire department. Spillman said he doesn’t think there is anyone who works harder than his firefighters.
Spillman also talked about public relation efforts the department does with schools, pre-schools, and the STEAM Expo. He said the department works hard to be prepared for everything.
He added that they go out of their way to make sure they are informed. This includes touring the bigger buildings in town to ensure they know everything they need to know in case of an emergency.
Councilman Logan Monson asked if the Blanding Fire Department is included in the county emergency response system. Spillman said the department works with the county and is a part of the emergency response system.
In 2017, the department has received 47 call outs and participated in 68 trainings.
City council expressed gratitude for the excellent work from the fire department, as well as appreciation to all of the firefighters.
Mayor Lyman suggested council members tour the fire station to learn more about the fire department.
Finally, council approved a change order to the current power project. The change allows the city to remove the lines that cross the corner on Center and Main streets, where the Grand County Credit Union is constructing a building.
The change will allow the credit union project to continue and will reroute power for existing buildings to other poles.