Monroe council passes policies to boost downtown


Downtown Monroe could have a new sculpture and an increased number of events this year, based on two new policies approved by the Monroe City Council last week.

The first policy establishes a fee-waiver program that will reduce costs associated with special events, while the second guides the commissioning of an artistic sculpture to be added to the downtown area. The policies were presented in draft form to councilmembers on Tuesday, March 8, by Monroe Parks and Recreation Director Mike Farrell and unanimously approved on Tuesday, March 15.

Funding for the policies was approved by the Monroe City Council in the 2016 budget to help encourage special events downtown and support downtown revitalization.

"The city council budgeted a total of $15,000 for 2016 to accomplish both initiatives,GÇ¥ Farrell said during the introductory presentation on March 8.

The fee-waiver program is available to event organizers to help offset some of the costs associated with coordinating events and applies specifically to special events in the downtown area. Prior to the new policy, organizations wishing to coordinate any event that necessitated a temporary road closure were required to pay the expenses associated with that closure.

"Feedback from event organizers pointed to the costs associated with required street closures for events, with costs ranging from $600 to $800-plus, as an obstacle to their event budgets,GÇ¥ Farrell said. "The policy puts in place a mechanism to address this through a fee waiver for city services of up to $1,000 per event.GÇ¥

Farrell added city staff was suggesting that $5,000 out of the $15,000 be allocated to the fee-waiver program. That amount will support up to five special events, and the waivers will be available on a first come, first serve basis.

"It is important to consider the aggregate interruptions to downtown businesses, which is factored into the proposed limit of $5,000,GÇ¥ Farrell said. "The goals of this policy include to encourage existing and new special events to occur in the newly renovated downtown core that promote tourism, foster economic revitalization of the downtown and to provide cultural activities to residents.GÇ¥

The second policy will facilitate the addition of a piece of public art that will be added to the downtown plaza area and account for the remaining $10,000 of budgeted funds.

"The proposed public art policy is to guide the purpose, goals, selection criteria and procedures for public art in city owned areas,GÇ¥ Farrell said.

Now that it's approved, the policy will implement a "call-for-sculptors,GÇ¥ to commission an outdoor sculpture to be installed in the newly renovated downtown plaza, Farrell said. Interested sculptors are free to solicit matching funds, but matching funds are not a requirement of the policy. City staff estimated there could be an additional need of up to $2,500 for structural base support, depending on the art form and its specific installation requirements.

For more information about the new policies, visit

hoto by Chris Hendrickson The Monroe City Council has passed legislation establishing a policy that reduces the permitting cost for holding events downtown and is seeking a sculptor for a new art piece to complement the new downtown plaza area.


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