Chesterton Tribune



Town Council regulates gatherings in public parks

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The Chesterton Town Council has put into place an enforceable policy limiting the number of people who may attend “gatherings” in the town’s parks.

At their meeting Monday night, members unanimously adopted a resolution articulating "Emergency Procedures for the Use of Town of Chesterton Properties and Parks and All Public Gatherings Located Within the Town of Chesterton.”

The policy is chiefly aimed at regulating the number of people who may attend the European Market and other Downtown festivals this summer, but is also applicable to private “gatherings” on public property: picnics, for instance, in a park.

A “gathering,” accordingly, is defined as an assembly of two or more people “who are not part of the same household, for any reason or purpose.”

“Property or park” is defined as “any lot, parcel, or right-of-way owned by the town, including public parks, buildings, parking lots, alleys, and streets.”

Most generally, all persons participating in a gathering in any public place are required to “adhere to the latest CDC guidelines on social distancing and the latest executive orders issued by the governor of the State of Indiana in an attempt to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19.”

More specifically, any group seeking to use a municipal park or other property for a public gathering in excess of 25 people must submit a plan to the Chief of Police--no later than 21 days prior to the gathering--detailing measures for social distancing and public safety.


-- The maximum number of participants in the gathering is currently limited to 24; then to 100 from May 24 to June 14; and to 250 between June 15 and July 4. Those maximum numbers, however, “may be further limited based on the amount of area available for the public gathering and the required minimum social distancing protocols.”

-- Participants in the gathering must maintain a distance of at least six feet from one another, and signage demonstrating proper social distances must be placed.

-- Vending areas must be protected by a physical barrier and spaced six feet apart, while visitors must remain six feet away from vending booths. Only one customer per booth at a time. Cash transactions should be limited and the plan must identify how cashless purchases will be encouraged. Vendors’ hands must be disinfected after every transaction or otherwise gloves worn. Visitors must be told not to touch an item which they do not intend to purchase. Food sampling is prohibited. Vendors must wear masks and should wear gloves to the greatest extent possible. And vending duties must be split between workers such that one employee is not producing, serving, and selling.

-- There must not be more than one entrance and one exit, and those must be monitored to ensure compliance with the limitation on participants. While waiting to enter, visitors must stand six feet apart from one another, A sanitation station or sanitizer sould be made available at the exit. Sponors are responsible for maintaining and monitoring visitor ingress and egress, and garbage cans must be placed at both the entrance and exit.

-- Signage must be placed at the entrance providing information on best practices, including the warning that sick or symptomatic individuals should not participate, with guidance on what symptoms to look for. In addition the signage must include guidance on proper social distancing protocols.

-- Visitors must be required to wear a mask and told whether masks will be provided or sold. Sponsors should consider whether it is feasible to make specific times available for seniors ad immunocompromised persons.

The policy also authorizes the Chesterton Police Department to enforce these “Emergency Procedures,” such that violations of any of these requirements by any person or group “shall be cause for immediate removal.”

In addition, any spontaneous gathering of individuals in which the number of participants exceeds that stipulated by the policy and in which no plan has been provided “shall be immediately dispersed.”

Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann noted on Monday that Police Chief Dave Cincoski, along with Town Engineer Mark O’Dell, devoted a “tremendous amount of time” in formulating the Emergency Procedures. He also emphasized that these procedures apply to any gathering. “I don’t care if you’re selling goods or having a picnic,” Lukmann said. “The same limitations apply: any gathering of two people or more. We don’t care about the purpose. I have a feeling the Police Department will be spending some time Downtown when (the European Market) opens.”

About the European Market: both Cincoski and O’Dell undertook separate calculations as to the maximum number of people permitted at any one time in the Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s parking lot at 220 Broadway during a run of the European Market. That number, given the proposed footprint of the parking lot, the placement of booths, and social distancing requirements: around 86.

Lukmann added that the Town Council, should it have a mind to, may make the limitations adopted on Monday “more stringent,” “unless and until the governor changes his executive order.”

And before the Chamber launches its first European Market of the season, it needs to attend to a couple of what President Sharon Darnell, D-4th, referred to as “housekeeping” items: it must increase its liability insurance from $1 million to $5 million; and it must acquire separate communicable disease insurance coverage.

“We need to close up some of these loose ends before we can go too far down the line,” said Member Jim Ton, R-1st.

Member Jennifer Fisher, I-5th, took a moment at the end of the meeting to thank Cincoski and O’Dell for their work on preparing the Emergency Procedures.


Posted 5/12/2020






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