A debate over the Historic Downtown Littleton Merchants’ plan for this summer’s block party on Main Street elicited this City Council’s first motion to immediately end discussion on a topic during its April 17 meeting.
The South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce created the popular “Wild on Littleton” block party eight years ago, featuring food vendors, bands and fireworks on Main Street. HDLM took over starting with this summer’s event, which will be June 9, 6 to 11 p.m.
HDLM member Korri Stainbrook ran the block party for its first four years while she was a chamber employee; she’s back in charge in its new incarnation.
“It’s not a chamber event, it’s for the people of the city,” Stainbrook told council.
The matter came before council because City Manager Michael Penny is implementing a new special-events application to standardize the process for all groups. Applications will be due before the budget process begins each summer, so council can decide which ones they might want to support financially. While these will normally be handled by staff, Penny said he wasn’t comfortable approving this one because he isn’t familiar enough with the history of the event.
HDLM president Greg Reinke said that since it’s the group’s first year and they don’t know what to expect as far as revenue, the in-kind support of around $8,000 that the city has always provided would be appreciated.
“To be honest, I would really like to wean us off the city of Littleton,” he told council.
Adding an hour, along with an additional fireworks display at 10:45, will keep people there and buying alcohol long enough to cover the expected $32,000 tab for the event, Reinke hopes.
Most of the councilors expressed at least some level of discomfort with HDLM’s plan, with concerns ranging from noise levels to drunken visitors to parking.
“I am going to have some heartburn with the lateness of the event,” said Councilor Bruce Stahlman, noting the crowd will come from a “decidedly less” Littleton ZIP code after the first fireworks end.
“I’m not comfortable spending city money for this event,” said Councilor Peggy Cole. But when she said she wanted to make some amendments to the resolution, Councilor Jerry Valdes immediately “called the question,” forcing an immediate vote. It passed, with only Cole dissenting.
Valdes drew applause from the assembled merchants when he said: “It’s a new way of thinking for Littleton. It’s the merchants of Littleton taking the real risk. … It sends the message that Littleton is open for business, and dang it, that’s what we’re always talking about.”
“This is our event, just like Western Welcome Week is our event,” Councilor Jim Taylor said before making a successful motion to provide the customary in-kind support of police patrol and street crews. “… I don’t see treating this year as any different. This is an event that’s going to help put Littleton on the map, so to speak.”