Block parties are a summer tradition in Riverside, but village officials are seeking to tighten up the application process after finding that some residents have received permission to block off streets for private parties. Village Manager Kathleen Rush said that last year “three or four” individuals finagled block party permits for their private parties, including a Fourth of July blowout on the north side of the village that was “very disruptive to the neighborhood.”
“We just noticed that it was starting to be part of a trend,” Rush added.
As a result, trustees are expected to approve at their meeting on June 19 an amendment to the village’s ordinance governing special events. The change would require anyone seeking block party approval to submit a petition that includes signatures from 50 percent of the block’s residents. The village will seek to define a private party as one where fewer than 50 percent of a block’s residents are invited to participate.
In addition, the village is proposing to raise the block party application fee from $5 to $10. According to Rush, a survey of nearby municipalities showed that residents were charged anywhere from zero to $50 for a block party application, but that $10 was sufficient since Public Works personnel must drop off and pick up barricades before and after a block party.
After a brief discussion of the proposed change at the village board’s Committee of the Whole meeting on June 5, it was clear that trustees supported the change to the application process.
Whether the changes will pose a burden to block party organizers isn’t clear. Some of Riverside’s blocks are very short, while others wind around for quite a distance.
On Audubon Road, a street of less than 20 homes between Evelyn and Southcote roads, residents have thrown a Fourth of July block party for close to 40 years. The party is so well-established that the block even enters a float in the annual Fourth of July Parade.
According to Joe Dvorak, who serves as one of the party’s organizers, getting together signatures from 50 percent of the street’s residents won’t be much of a problem.
“Of the 16 or so homes, I’d say maybe we have two who don’t participate, and that’s because they’re probably out of town,” Dvorak said. “We’ve met at least three times since last year. I could probably sit on my front porch and get the signatures.”
While Brian Brennan’s block?”Parkway Road?”doesn’t throw a traditional block party where the street is blocked off, he agreed that the village should crack down on people who block off streets for private parties by calling them block parties.
“I think it’s a good rule,” said Brennan, who said his block organizes some 15 different events a year?”from wine parties to bowling nights to trips to see the White Sox. “I don’t think people should take advantage of it. A block party is a block party, not a private party.”
Rush said the village would see how the new procedure works this summer. If it needs further tweaking, she’ll bring it back to the board.
“We’ll try it out,” Rush said. “If it turns out to be a huge issue, we can probably bring it back to the board and revisit it. But this is a way for neighbors to assure their support [of granting a permit].”