Outgoing Princeton Administrator Bob Bruschi has recommended that town officials adopt a new policy for events held in Princeton on Sundays.
Bruschi told the Princeton Council Monday night that he is recommending that Communiversity, the town and gown arts celebration held each April and organized by the Arts Council of Princeton, be held the fourth Sunday of April each year. The event, which draws about 40,000 people per year, used to be held on Saturdays. Last year it was switched to Sundays at the request of downtown merchants.
“We prefer the Sunday date,” Bruschi said of town staff. “It made it easier for staff to work and get the people we needed involved. It is also easier to get volunteers on Sundays because there are so many other activities on Saturdays.”
Bruschi said the Arts Council, business owners and the downtown churches were all “on board” with Communiversity being held on a Sunday each year. He said the event is held late enough on Sunday that it does not affect church goers. Several residents complained recently at a Witherspoon Jackson neighborhood meeting about the difficulty getting to and from church because of the switch to Sunday.
“It’s late enough in the day…we don’t want to see expanded hours,” Bruschi said. He then discussed other Sunday events, and said the town might want to consider asking HiTOPS to plan an alternative route for the Princeton Half Marathon in future years.
“If the half marathon could cross into West Windsor it wouldn’t inconvenience as many residents,” Bruschi said. “Several crossings go through the middle of town, sort of like a pretzel. It is difficult to manage and tell residents when the roads will be open. There is very little benefit to the central business district compared with Communiversity. Having Communiversity on Sunday provides financial benefits to the community. Sunday is a slower day for businesses and people come to Communiversity and stay and eat in restaurants and shop.”
Jeff Nathanson, the head of the Arts Council, told the governing body that everyone agrees that Communiversity should not get bigger. He said there was a breakdown in communication between the leaders of congregations and their members that led to frustrations with traffic and parking last year. Next year people will speak to congregations a few weeks before the event, he said.
“Last year we kept all our marketing regional and we gave a price break to local participants. It was more like a hometown event,” he said. “It still brought 40,000 people out. We don’t think should get any larger. We do think we can manage things more successfully like parking and the use of shuttles. There are a lot of things we can do working together to make it a less difficult event to access for residents.”
Bruschi sent a memo to the Princeton Council on Oct. 10 outlining a Sunday events policy that would only allow community events sponsored or co-sponsored by the town to be held on Sundays, unless the event is approved by the governing body.
“When it comes to Sunday events it is being suggested that as a matter of policy that only events that are sponsored or co-sponsored by the community shall be permitted on Sundays and holidays,” Bruschi wrote. “This would include items such as the Memorial Day parade, Fire Department parade, and Communiversity. Any other request for a Sunday or holiday event that is to be held within the central business district and is not self-contained, such as on the Plaza, the Green, or Tiger Park, shall be at the discretion of the governing body. If the governing body approves the event, then the special events policy shall be administered by the staff as outlined for all other events.”
The proposed policy outlines the procedure for organizers of races, outdoor concerts, fireworks, holiday events, or other activities to apply to host an event in Princeton. The council did not vote on the policy Monday night.