Hilliard City Council members are working to craft a formal policy that would keep the Old Hilliardfest Art and Street Fair on Main and Norwich streets.
Councilman Al Iosue said he asked for a resolution to be drafted "to foster discussion" about the future site of the street fair, and an ordinance was introduced at the Sept. 24 meeting of the City Planning, Projects and Services Committee of City Council.
With the exception of one year when the reconstruction of Main Street forced its relocation to the county fairgrounds, the festival has been held on the streets of Old Hilliard since it was founded 27 years ago as Old Hilliard Day.
But its future there seemed to be in jeopardy when Mayor Don Schonhardt directed Law Director Pam Fox to issue a letter Sept. 5 advising the Hilliard Civic Association that planning for next year's festival "will have to include an off-street location." The letter to Hilliard Arts Council Vice President John Peters cited "issues that the administration has encountered this year and in years past with the closure of Main Street."
Hilliard Civic Association members attended the Sept. 10 Hilliard City Council meeting to appeal for support to keep the festival at its present location.
At the same time, city officials said it was never their intent to boot the festival out of Old Hilliard; rather, they wanted the festival's organizers to adhere to requirements associated with the closure of Main Street. Schonhardt said Sept. 11 that Fox's letter served its purpose by getting the attention of event organizers.
Now, it appears the administration, City Council, the Hilliard Civic Association and affected Main Street business owners will work together to establish a formal policy for the street fair.
The ordinance introduced Sept. 24 declares the second Saturday of September as "Old Hilliardfest and Street Fair Day" and would waive a city code pertaining to the street closure permit process.
The ordinance calls for the closure of Main Street, between North and Madison streets, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the closure of Norwich, Center and Franklin streets, between Columbia and Wayne streets, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Main Street again, between Norwich and Franklin streets, from 5 to 11 p.m.
It also would permit the sale of alcohol within the boundaries of the street fair between 5 and 11 p.m., contingent on approval from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.
Iosue said he and Councilman Nathan Painter will meet with the Hilliard Civic Association to ensure requirements are met and all "are on the same page."
Schonhardt reiterated Sept. 24 that the administration at no time intimated the street fair should be anywhere other than Old Hilliard.
"But I knew there to be some concern among business owners (about the closure of Main Street) and that was the reason for the letter. ... We have a year to resolve (these issues)," said Schonhardt, who offered to arrange for meetings with business owners.
Iosue said he understood the concerns of the business owners and welcomed their participation.
"The sooner we can set up such meetings, the better," Iosue said.
The ordinance remains in the City Planning, Projects and Services Committee for consideration and possible revisions.