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Vendors, Melrose reps speak at city council meeting

BY ALISON SULLIVAN | APRIL 20, 2011 7:20 AM

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Melrose Neighborhood Association representatives said Tuesday they are willing to work with city officials and vendors to determine the best option — even if that means vendors remain on Melrose Avenue for another football season.

But the neighborhood's residents made it clear they ultimately want the food and merchandise stands farther from their homes.

Three vendors and two Melrose neighborhood representatives spoke at Tuesday night's City Council meeting about the potential for more regulation over the vendors outside Kinnick Stadium on game days. Residents have told the city they would like something done about he vendors due to trash left in their yards as well as safety concerns.

Jean Walker of the Melrose Neighborhood Association said she believes councilors are moving too quickly on the decision over whether to ban or regulate vendors, saying she thinks they should take more time to address the concerns.

"Now is the time to get together to make this a win-win-win situation," she said.

Councilors said at their Monday meeting they do not want an outright ban of the vendors on Melrose Avenue, but talked they about other options to better enfore and regulate city laws by establishing a permit system.

Walker noted the association also doesn't want to entirely ban vendors and stressed the need to find alternative options. But her options focused on moving the stands to other areas, such as along Hawkins Drive or to the parking lot next to Kinnick Stadium. Both would require talks with University of Iowa officials.

"It gives the University of Iowa an opportunity to take responsibility for the activity it generates through its football games," said Ann Stromquist, who spoke out in defense of protecting the quality of the neighborhood.

Walker said vendors should remain in their current placement on Melrose for the coming season with some type of temporary permit in place.

"Let's not rush this through," she said. "But let's get it right."

Mayor Matt Hayek said the whole process would take time and would not all be worked out by this fall's football season, but he did hope there would be some progress.

"I think the goal is to come up with some reasonable permit regulations," he said.

Numerous vendors also spoke at the meeting.

Some said the revenue from football season helps them to get through their "slow time" in December through March.

Crystal Cavanaugh, the vendor who runs Coco Cavanna, said many vendors have established a good relationship with the property owners they work with each year, and the owners, too, profit from the vendor's presence.

Others contended merchants weren't at fault for some of the activities neighbors are concerned about.

"It's been stated numerous times that the problem is the vendors, not the tailgaters," said Chuck Ford, who sells Big Ass Turkey Legs. "Well, I beg to differ with you."


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