Two popular University Place events previously on the chopping block will be held this year after all. The City Council has approved adding the annual Cider Squeeze to the list of official 2014 city events, as well as the event commonly known as Treasures in the Park.
The volunteer groups that have organized the events for more than a decade were worried last week after learning the city planned to change how it regulates volunteer-run events. The changes could have meant the two events would be scrapped due to liability concerns.
“I’m pleased they saw that there is a value in that event,” said Linda Bird, a Homestead Park volunteer who helped organize Treasures in the Park during the city’s Duck Daze festivities in June.
A former UP Mayor and longtime council member, Bird said she’s still concerned how the event will be managed now that volunteers aren’t leading it.
Gary Cooper, the city’s director of Public Works and Parks, did his best Monday night to assure volunteers he wouldn’t make significant changes.
Citing the Cider Squeeze, Cooper said his name would be on the special event permit but he planned to “rely on the volunteers to run the Cider Squeeze.”
Lorna Smith, another former longtime council member, mayor and Homestead Park volunteer, was happy with Monday night’s council vote but disappointed her group can’t hold its annual plant sale in May. Previously the group bought plants using donations kept in a fund under city control; after the sale, the group would reimburse the fund and add any proceeds.
The Curran Apple Orchard volunteers have a similar arrangement with the city.
The council’s unanimous approval of the resolution Monday clarified that the city will no longer act as a bank for these groups.
Once money is deposited with the city, it becomes public funds, city attorney Steve Victor said. That means there are restrictions on how it can be used, he said.
Bird said her group “would appreciate the courtesy of being able to give you a list of our priorities for how that money should be spent for capital improvements in the park.”
Mayor Denise McCluskey said the council would schedule a time to hear from the volunteers.
Cooper also gave his word that the money in the accounts is for “beautification and capital projects” and would never be used for general maintenance.
Brynn Grimley: 253-597-8467 email@example.com