Resident: Festival parking made Retton unsafe
A Retton Road resident complained to Reynoldsburg City Council's safety committee earlier this month that people parking on both sides of the road during the Tomato Festival caused a dangerous situation in her neighborhood.
"I have lived in Reynoldsburg for more than 40 years and I am just a hop, skip and a jump from Huber Park," Jane Klein said at the Sept. 4 meeting. "I went to city council 20 years ago for relief from Tomato Festival parking and finally got one side of the street parking."
Klein said she and her neighbors were relieved when the festival was moved to Civic Park for several years, but now the problem is back because the festival is back at Huber.
"Here I am again, because during the last festival, there were no festival signs out to direct parking and people parked on both sides of the street," she said. "You cannot get an emergency vehicle into that neighborhood with cars parked on both sides."
Klein said she spoke to the city street department on the Wednesday before the Tomato Festival this year.
"They told me there was no order for one side of the street parking this year," she said. "Listen, people, you are putting my family and that of my neighbors in danger.
"As a woman in my 60s, I'm scared," she added. "I deserve to have an emergency vehicle (be able to) get to my house. Huber Park is just too small for this festival. If you insist on using this park, then you have to solve the parking problem."
Mayor Brad McCloud said he was aware of the parking problem.
"We will do what we can next year to account for that problem," he said. "We can have one side of the street parking for certain streets each year during the festival."
An estimated 6,000 to 8,000 people attended the Tomato Festival Aug. 17 and 18 at Huber Park, said Mary Hudson, event president.
She said it was difficult to judge attendance, since the festival does not charge for admission or parking.
"The beer garden was new this year and was a great draw and a great success," she said. "We were also thrilled with the Tomato Jam Battle of the Bands and definitely plan on having that back at the festival next year. The bands were great and were real crowd-pleasers."
She said the car show on Saturday evening was "a tremendous draw and the gorgeous weather aided us in that regard."
Hudson said the attendance of teenagers seems to be growing at the Tomato Festival.
"We might try to get some young people on our committee this year to help us with the planning for next year's festival," she said. "We hope they could come up with ideas for things they would like to see at the festival."
She said since the event is not city-sponsored, organizers are not required to report profit or loss numbers to city council; all proceeds are poured into the next festival, she said.
"After we paid all our bills last year, we only had a carryover of around $4,000," she said.
Adding a beer garden — open only to ages 21 and older — to this year's 48th annual Tomato Festival helped boost profits, Hudson said.