By Jane Smith
    
    The city’s policy of just one big event per month during high season will be retested July 5.
    That’s when Garlic Fest founder and organizer Nancy Stewart-Franczak will return to appeal the city’s denial of her holding the 18-year-old festival in February as usual because the Tennis Center has booked the Delray Beach Open for that month.
    On June 21, Stewart-Franczak packed the City Commission chambers with her supporters. Members of the Atlantic High School jazz dance team, wearing their Eaglette uniforms, asked commissioners to save Garlic Fest because it allowed them to earn money to be on the team. Other supporters included the school’s marching band and the local Boy Scout troop, as well as Dada restaurant owner Bruce Feingold.
    Rob Steele, new head of Old School Square, also asked that Garlic Fest be allowed. His budget needs the income. Garlic Fest paid $25,000 this year to Old School Square for use of its site, despite commissioners’ saying they no longer want events on that campus to stop it from becoming “the fairgrounds.”
    Over the years, Garlic Fest, run by the nonprofit Delray Beach Arts Inc., has donated about $600,000 to various groups whose members work at the three-day festival.
    The city is trying to recover costs and has estimated Garlic Fest should pay $61,000 for 2017, more than doubling the nearly $25,000 paid this year.
    Most promoters are seeing at least a doubling of fees because the city’s finance department has developed metrics that cover the entire cost for staff time, including hourly wages, vacation time and pensions. The metrics also consider the cost of staff “on the ground” at events, including maintenance and cleanup, plus administrative time associated with the event, stage rentals, trash boxes and liners, portable toilets, and so on.
    Stewart-Franczak has made changes to the Garlic Fest site plan by eliminating carnival rides and street closings. Delray Beach residents will be allowed in free during two hours on Sunday; all others have to pay.
    Only four commissioners sat on the dais during the June 21 meeting. The mayor was out of town.
    Commissioner Jordana Jarjura said the city provides services for the tennis tournament 10 days before that event starts, overlapping the Garlic Fest’s proposed dates of Feb. 10-12. The city is trying to reduce the stress on services when its public safety departments are dealing with 10-12 overdose calls daily, Jarjura said.
    The commission, chaired by Vice Mayor Al Jacquet, voted twice on the Garlic Fest appeal. The first motion to deny the appeal ended in a tied vote, with Commissioner Shelly Petrolia joining Jacquet to deny it. Commissioners Jarjura and Mitch Katz supported the appeal.
    Jarjura, who has spoken about not voting against policy, tried to put together a compromise vote allowing the Garlic Fest to continue for one year, but in following years not to allow a waiver.
    Stewart-Franczak looked perplexed, saying she didn’t know whether she could find a different site. An exasperated Jarjura said, “Count your votes.”
    The city attorney said the vote would not be binding on future commissions.
    Katz then offered Jarjura’s motion, which also ended in a tied vote. According to Petrolia’s reading of the city charter, that vote would have killed the appeal. But when they turned to City Attorney Noel Pfeffer for guidance, he told them to keep voting.
    Jarjura then offered a motion to table the appeal to the July 5 commission meeting, when the mayor would be present. That motion passed unanimously.

Fest focus now more local
    Delray Beach wants festivals that are town-serving, since it no longer needs to attract masses into downtown as it did 30 years ago.
    Each special event has to pay a nonrefundable $150 application fee, which offsets the event permit fee of $150 for a minor event, $300 for an intermediate and $500 for a major event. Promoters are asked to provide parking solutions during their events.
    “Special events had largely been a free-for-all,” Mayor Cary Glickstein said at the June 7 commission meeting, “with no coherent strategy or policy or understanding of what these events factually cost the city, or how they impact public safety. … Sixty events in a compressed area is just too much.”
    Before sober homes became an issue, the complaints were all about the festivals, Petrolia said. “We’ve made this decision four times since 2013,” she said. “Tweaking is not what we are looking for.”
    She talked about the festivals drawing more people from outside Delray Beach into downtown. “We have addressed whether we really want that kind of thing. The answer is no,” she said.
    The city commissioners listed five major events they want to host or see happen in the downtown: Veterans Day Parade in November, holiday parade and events in December, tennis tournament in February, St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March, Delray Affair in April. No other major events are allowed in those months in the downtown core. The city also hosts July Fourth events in the summer.
    The fifth annual Wine & Seafood Festival was nixed because the promoter sought a November weekend when the city has set aside that month for its Veterans Day Parade. Stewert-Franczak’s for-profit Festival Management Group runs that festival and the Delray Affair for the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce.
    The festival organizer is trying to reduce costs and allow the Wine & Seafood Festival to fall into the intermediate event category and be able to keep its November date, the city manager said in late June. The costs of city services would have to fall below $20,000 for an event to be characterized as intermediate.
    Chamber of Commerce President Karen Granger was disheartened. “The city is making it difficult for us to recoup the costs,” she said. Her organization had counted on income from the Wine & Seafood Festival to support its pro-business programming.
    “Events helped to create the vibe of the happiest seaside town in America,” she said.
    Bruce Gimmy, who owns the Trouser Shop on Atlantic Avenue, appreciates the more upscale events, such as the Howard Alan crafts and fine arts festivals, that draw clientele to his store. The events don’t have alcohol vendors, creating business for the city’s restaurants, are in the daytime and are free to attend.
    Both Alan festivals were approved on the condition that a parking program is worked out with the city.  The crafts festival, held Thanksgiving weekend, is considered an intermediate event with costs estimated to be $9,362.
    The fine arts festival in January is considered a major event. Costs are estimated at $14,700.
    “We do events all over the country,” Alan said, “and the best are in downtown Delray Beach.”

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