Chatham trims bigger bill for popular street fair

CHATHAM–The Village Board and CABA (Chatham Area Business Alliance) had a long discussion at last week’s board meeting about a bill for village services for Summerfest, the annual July street fair sponsored by CABA.

CABA President Tom Chulak said at the August 11 meeting that for the first time this year CABA created an Event Committee to organize Summerfest. The committee got sponsorships for the event and spent more money on advertising to attract what he said was between 1,000 and 2,000 visitors to the event.

“As we are changing, our relationship with the village is changing,” he said.

Though this was the 40th year for Summerfest, CABA has only been around for 30 years, Mr. Chulak said. He did not know the terms of the relationship with the village before he got involved with CABA a few years ago and did not know if there was a financial agreement with the village before this year.

Mr. Chulak, co-owner of the Chatham Bookstore, pointed out that Mayor Tom Curran and Village Clerk Barbara Henry sat in on meetings about the planning of Summerfest. At first, he said, CABA agreed to pay the village $500 for expenses the village would accrue hosting the event, including extra hours for village police. He said the committee was later told by the village that the costs would be $750. Then a few weeks ago CABA received a bill from the village for $1,000.

“We feel $750 is what we agreed to,” Mr. Chulak said. He stressed that CABA’s total budget is about $3,000 a year, so that a $1,000 “would really impact us,” he said.

He also did not know what the $1,000 paid for. The bill was not itemized.

Ms. Henry presented the board with an email she received from Event Committee member Cathi Bruneau, owner of the Main Street Grainery, which mentioned the $1,000.

“I don’t know where that extra $250 came from, just what Barbara told me,” said Ms. Bruneau at the meeting, adding that she would have had to get permission for CABA to increase the budget and the $1,000 mentioned in the email was never approved.

Village Trustee Lenore Packet pointed out that there was “such a lack of communication everywhere.” She asked about peddlers permits for the 70 vendors at the event and said that no one from CABA came to the board to discuss the event.

“Barb was on our committee, Tom came our meetings,” said event committee member Melony Spock. Ms. Bruneau said that peddlers permits were discussed but that the committee agreed with the village on the $500 amount as a total cost.

Village Board members Jay Rippel and Gunnar Wordon both said this was the first they were hearing of the bill. Mr. Rippel said the village has benefited from the success of the event. “If this is the first year they have paid anything, then shame on us,” he said.

Mr. Wordon pointed out that CABA was only asking for $250 to be taken off the bill and that the organization will pay something for the police and administrative costs for the day.

The mayor and the rest of the board agreed to change the bill back to $750. Mayor Curran said that CABA and the board will “draw a line; from here forward we are going to do better.”

CABA is planning to host an “Octoberfeast” on October 1 in the village. The event will have food from local restaurants on the Main Street, but no vendors, according to Ms. Spock.

At its next meeting the Village Board plans to review a law that would temporarily suspend the village open container law for the Octoberfeast.

Chatham Brewing hopes to use the parking lot near the Tracy Memorial Town Hall during the event and allow people to drink their beer outside in that space. The village has already approved the brewery’s use during the event of the parking lot, which is owned jointly by the Village and the Town of Chatham. The brewery plans to come to the next Town Board meeting to seek its permission to use the parking lot.

The public hearing on the temporary suspension of the open container law will take place before the next meeting of the Village Board Thursday, August 25 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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