Calling it an unfair advantage, Mayor Anthony Calderone asked village commissioners at Monday’s meeting to consider outdoor tents erected on parking lots, alleys and other public spaces. Piggyback Tavern made a request to erect an outside tent behind the restaurant at 410 Circle Ave. covering 10 public parking spaces for either eight days between March 9 and March 17 or for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade weekend March 9-10.
The mayor said tents on public spaces gave businesses an unfair ability to “increase their available space for their private gainful income and have an edge over other businesses.” He suggested creating a policy and crafting an ordinance to set parameters about when private businesses could use public space.
The commissioners discussed past uses of portable tents for charity events, such as Fat Duck’s fundraiser for Opportunity Knocks this summer and Kevil’s charity event for Roberto Clemente High School.
Commissioner Tom Mannix said that by permitting some businesses to use public space, the village was creating “winners and losers” and opening itself up to lawsuits. Commissioner Chris Harris said he wanted to make sure Forest Park was friendly to local businesses.
Commissioner Rory Hoskins said it would be a mistake to rush an ordinance through in the two weeks before St. Patrick’s Day and advised granting the specific request and then taking adequate time to craft an ordinance that reflects the policy.
Village Attorney Nick Peppers said it would be challenging to craft an ordinance that would cover every use of public space, but the mayor encouraged him to try to do so within the next two weeks. The council will vote at the next meeting whether Piggyback can erect the tent.