Support For Mobile Vendors In Square Dominates Public Hearing

BROKEN BOW— Mobile food vendors and extension cords were the main topics of discussion at the Broken Bow City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 22. The first topic was about extension cords and a resolution that would have banned their use at the Broken Bow City Square.

During public hearing, City Administrator Dan Knoell stated from a City standpoint there is a safety concern to the public when cords are strewn across the sidewalk. The issue was also brought about at a previous council meeting, where Knoell said someone had nearly fallen on a cord that was not covered up. He noted that if the City did nothing and someone was hurt, the City could be sued, which was confirmed by City Attorney Jason White.

During public comment, KCNI/KBBN’s Dave Birnie stated he has been stringing cords in the park for 35 years and has never had a problem. He also said every effort is made to make sure the cords are covered by a mat and taped down to lower the risk of someone tripping. He noted that a better solution might be making sure anyone in the square was covering the cords instead of just banning them.

Stuart Fox commented that someone can sue you for anything and asked the Council to take their time on deciding what to do regarding the ordinance and to ‘be consistent.’

Consistency came up a few times during the meeting specifically focusing on Market on the Square. A number of people stated that whatever the Council decided on needs to be fair and consistent and if they allow the Market to take place, every other day should be allowed as well if proper safety measures are being taken.

The public hearing wrapped up with Mayor Rod Sonnichsen addressing the Council and said the resolution might be extreme. Knoell said the ban was to be temporary until a permanent fix could be found.

The Council voted to postpone any decisions until the first meeting in August.

While a number of people spoke during the hearing on mobile food vendors, the majority were heavily against banning mobile vendors from the Square. While against the ban, other changes to the ordinance were well received by some including, reducing the time a vendor can be at one location to 12 hours and displaying documentation of Nebraska sales tax permit, health permits, etc.

Those in favor of the vendors at the Square also stated variety is good and food trucks are an asset to Broken Bow. A few also noted the resolution seemed to be discriminatory and was only targeting a few mobile vendors.

Comments had also been made at a previous meeting where it was felt the mobile vendors take business away from the restaurants in town and on the Square. Craig Safranek, who owns Dairy Queen in Broken Bow, said events like the Market on the Square actually increase their business.

“We love the stuff on the Square. It really brings people to town. A lot of people would probably assume we have slower days on Thursday’s at noon, but it is actually one of the busiest of the week, because I really do think it brings people to town. Whether it’s for tacos, the smoothies, the snow cones with Tropical Snow, it really brings something,” said Safranek.

Council President Jacob Holcomb praised those who attended and said this type of discourse is how governments should be run.

The three readings on the resolution were not waived and the item will be back on the agenda at the next City Council meeting where changes are expected.

Also during the meeting, Knoell stated that TextMyGov was now live throughout the City. TextMyGov is a service that allows those with a mobile device to receive alerts when the city is planning power outages, closed streets, etc., but also allows the user to report issues like potholes or find out more information about city services. For those wanting to sign up for alerts text “BROKENBOW” to 91836. To report an issue to the City, text (308) 872-7226 at any time.

Also approved was the appointment of Ryan Coleman to the Park Board, a 60-day notice, after the sale is final, to make improvements on a nuisance property that is expected to be sold and purchased within the next couple of months, and the sale of College Estates to Premiere Storage with a bid of $22,500.