MARENGO – City officials postponed a vote on a local road closure for Marengo’s annual Settlers’ Days event when a representative didn’t show up to answer questions surrounding the controversial move at this week’s City Council meeting.
Settlers’ Days Inc. is in charge of planning Marengo’s iconic celebration, a four-day event founded in 1971 that includes parades, a carnival, a craft show, food, live music and other events. One of its highlights is the “Saturday Night on Main Street” party, which traditionally occurs on Route 23 downtown.
This year, the committee plans to move its events to a field behind Glo-Bowl near Marengo High School, which has caused concern with residents and City Council members who question the break from tradition, parking, pedestrian safety, traffic flow and backup, whether there will be enough room for the high school marching band competition, cleanup and handicap accessibility.
“I am not one to put lock, stock and barrel in social media,” 3rd Ward Alderman Matt Keenum said. “But it’s pretty evident that the only people that have this desire to move are those that are on the committee.”
City Council members have no control over where the event takes place, but because no Settlers’ Days representative attended Monday’s meeting to address questions, a vote on whether to close Franks Road at Lindow Avenue and waive carnival fees for the event was postponed.
“It’s a slap in the face for them not to show up,” Keenum said. “Last time someone was here they were not able to answer our questions and said they would have to take everything back to their committee, and now there is no one here.”
Mayor John Koziol said he wanted to be clear that the city has no control on whether the event was moved and safety could be at stake if the roads are not closed during the event.
“I would hate to see someone get hurt,” Koziol said. “But as much as I talk about the safety of the road begin closed, there are just way too many questions that we can’t have answered.”
City Council members signed off on the closure of Route 23 to allow for the Settlers’ Day parade because the state also must OK the closure in time for the October event.
Council members also added that they would be OK to close Route 23 in the event that the committee decides to hold its traditional Saturday Night on Main Street event downtown after all, which council members will need to formally ratify at a future meeting.
The city will consider the closure of Franks Road near Glo-Bowl and the high school at a future meeting.
“I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt, postpone and request with a capital ‘R’ that someone in the know from that committee come here with answers,” Keenum said. “There are more questions than answers at this point.”