Grand Marais 4th of July Parade encounters red tape

Grand Marais’ Fourth of July parade topped the city council’s June 13 agenda as Chamber of Commerce Director Bev Wolke appeared with the street and sidewalk permit application for the annual event.
However, unlike other years when the permit was approved with little fanfare and as a matter of routine, there was some discussion regarding a new policy instituted by the county that requires an additional application and payment of $100. City Administrator Mike Roth said the county could assess the fee because the downtown streets on which the parade travels are classified as County State Aid roads. However, it wasn’t clear why the county has only recently begun requiring a separate permit and fee for city- or privately-sponsored events.
“This is not reasonable, especially for nonprofits,” said Councilor Tim Kennedy.
Councilor Bill Lenz agreed, observing that it is the city that organizes the special events and sets up barricades to control traffic. When it was suggested that the fee is perhaps needed to offset the cost of assistance from sheriff’s deputies, Lenz pointed out that the city pays a yearly fee to the county for such services. “We should expect something for what we pay,” he said.
Wolke said the new process is “slightly more complicated and expensive,” and requires her to get three permits (rather than one from the city, for which there is no charge) for each event in the city such as parades and the car show. Furthermore, she said, the Chamber is not making any money on the special events.
Roth said the city could request that some County State Aid downtown streets such as Wisconsin and Broadway be given back to the city, or traded for some others of equal mileage to maintain the state aid reimbursement the county receives. Roth said there really wouldn’t be a down side for the city, because the city already plows the snow and maintains those streets. “We’ve been doing it anyway, for 25 years,” he said.
However, the county doesn’t seem interested in such a trade, said Roth.
Turning back to the chamber request, council approved the parade permit. Wolke said the parade will begin at 8 p.m. July 4 and will be followed by music in Harbor Park until the fireworks begin at dusk. The parade will begin at the Senior Center parking lot, travel down Broadway to Wisconsin Street to First Avenue to the one-way back to Broadway. As usual, parade participants may make two trips along the route.