Parks department to enforce rule limiting barriers to city-sponsored events

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Jan. 22, 2014 at 11 p.m.
Updated Jan. 22, 2014 at 7:23 p.m.

The Victoria Livestock Show parade was canceled because of the lack of barricades available to keep the parade participants safe.

Event organizers decided not to host the parade because they would have to rent the 56 barricades needed to block intersections for the downtown parade, said Dian Denker Patterson, the show's business chairman.

In prior years, the city's parks and recreation department provided the barricades and personnel to set up and take down, but that has changed.

When Colby VanGundy took over as director of parks and recreation, he noticed the department was inconsistent when allowing organizations to use the barricades and using department overtime to set up and break down the barricades.

To be consistent and fair to all organizations, the director said it was important to return to the policy that was originally in place.

"Some groups were allowed to use them, and other groups were not," he said. "We wanted to be fair across the board and stop the practice."

The barricades will be limited for city-sponsored events only, VanGundy said. That includes big events such as Bootfest, street dances, Market Days and the holiday parade.

"It's just a policy we have, and it's my job to enforce that policy," VanGundy said.

Ron Kocian, president of Warrior's Weekend, said in the past, his organization was able to borrow barricades from the city without any problems. Now, with the policy being enforced, Kocian said he is running into a few problems putting on the Korean War Veterans Parade on Feb. 1.

He estimated that the route of the parade requires about 50 barricades.

"We're trying to honor war heroes," he said. "It's a real burden on us nonprofits. We pay city taxes - a lot. And this is part of the deal, and now we have to go and spend nonprofit money to protect our parade."

Peter Riesz, member of the Victoria County Veterans Council, said the November Veterans Day parade went smoothly. City-owned barricades were used at that event.

He said he hasn't heard anything about the city policy regarding the barricades.

"We'd have to make adjustments," Riesz said.

The veterans' council hosts a Memorial Day ceremony and will begin planning for the event closer to the date. He said the city hasn't told the group it won't be receiving any assistance.

VanGundy said his department hasn't run into any problems with organizations not being able to get the barricades they needed.

As for area nonprofits and organizations that plan to host a parade, there are few options to rent barricades.

David Ramos, owner of A Plus Party Rentals and Inflatables, said he doesn't have barricades in his inventory because the city handled that.

"It's supply and demand," he said. "We never needed them, so we didn't buy them."

Now that the demand has changed, Ramos said his business will look into adding barricades to its rental equipment.

Lynda King, owner of King's Events and Tents, said she has barricades for rent but has about 15 to 20 available.

"Sometimes, you can't meet every need," she said. "Sometimes it's because there are multiple events going on."

King said she hasn't had any problems supplying parades or events with barricades, but the company plans to increase its inventory.

The charge for each barricade is $15. King offered the Victoria Livestock Show a discounted rate of $10 each.

The low participation and high cost in terms of money and personnel of putting on the parade was too much for this year's livestock show, Patterson said.

"We've already got the 2015 parade in the works," she said.

For Kocian, it's the principle that bothers him.

"They were inconsistent, so they're going to punish everyone else for it - that makes a lot of sense," he said.



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