Melrose ordinance passes first vote

BY NINA EARNEST | JUNE 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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A new city ordinance regulating vendors on Melrose Avenue passed its first step Tuesday — but some Melrose residents still aren’t satisfied with the university’s and the city’s actions.

Jean Walker, a member of the Melrose Neighborhood Association, took the podium once Mayor Matt Hayek opened the public forum at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Walker charged that the University of Iowa had not been a “good neighbor” in managing football game days and requested Melrose area residents be allowed to be more involved in discussions on the issue.

“Who best knows what is needed in the neighborhood but the neighbors?” Walker asked in her speech.

City officials began crafting the ordinance after an Iowa City panel in April recommended an all-out ban of the vendors. Residents called for the vendors’ removal because of problems caused by tailgating, including trash, vomit, and public urination. But the possibility of a ban sparked outrage from fans.

The new regulations call for a $75 football game-day temporary-use permit — uniting several provisions already required under the city code — represents an early compromise. First consideration of the ordinance passed with a 7-0 vote. Following a vote on July 5, the measure could be adopted.

Walker presented additional requests, including limiting the vendor zone, the banning of shish-kebab sticks, and a comprehensive review of the game-day experience with UI involvement.

Doug Boothroy, the city’s director of Housing and Inspection Services, told the councilors that UI officials recently agreed to possibly include more trash cans and portable toilet facilities on university property.

Some councilors agreed more cooperation was necessary to review game-day regulation.

Councilor Regenia Bailey asked Boothroy if further discussion could be brokered between the university and the other parties.

As of now, no such discussion have been brought up, Boothroy said. But he said he believed future collaboration was possible.

Councilor Mike Wright recommended there be a follow-up meeting after the first season of the ordinance’s implementation.

“I think it would be important to have some sort of conversation with the parties involved after the season this year to see if there’s been any improvement or need for tweaking,” Wright said.

Bailey suggested such a meeting should occur before the football season.

“It might be nice to sit down before the season starts,” she said. “[And see] what it’s going to look like and how’s it going to go.”

Ron Christensen, the owner of Game Day Iowa and the only vendor who spoke at the forum, said more trash and toilet facilities were needed to keep the area clean.

“Hawkeye fans are fantastic people if you give them a chance,” he said.

Melrose-area resident Shelton Stromquist also spoke at the forum, addressing criticism directed at the neighborhood that suggested they should have known what to expect living in the tailgating area.

“Of course we knew there was a Kinnick Stadium,” Stromquist said. “We didn’t know or expect the outrageous and illegal behavior of some Iowa fans.”

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