Edgerton council denies most of Harry Potter Festival's requests

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Jim Dayton
Thursday, January 12, 2017

EDGERTON—The Edgerton City Council denied most of a 27-item request from Harry Potter Festival organizers, a move that might force the event to move its magic elsewhere.

The council considered the request at a special meeting Wednesday and approved the items the city normally provides to other festivals. But the council quickly shot down the organizers' more ambitious plans, which included a Hogwarts Express train experience, two separate mazes and a hefty stipend for advertising and promotional materials.

The city approved only one item that comes with a cost—agreeing to pay half of police overtime for 2017 festival security at a maximum of $2,500. That's consistent with what the city provides for other festivals, City Administrator Ramona Flanigan said.

“I expected (the council) would try to be consistent with the services they provide to the other festivals in the community,” she said. “We provide a lot of services to festivals, but anything above that, they didn't feel that this project warranted anything additional.”

The special meeting drew a packed crowd to the Edgerton council chambers despite icy roads and freezing rain, with some people standing or sitting in the hallway. A handful spoke to explain how the request could affect their businesses, but the discussion did not grow contentious or argumentative.

Among the few items approved, the festival is allowed to use city-owned bleachers, utility spools and garbage cans. The event can also use Central and Veterans parks and the electrical outlets installed on light poles along Henry and Fulton streets.

The festival can also set up two Quidditch fields in Race Track Park to emulate a game featured prominently in the Potter books and movies, which it had already done this past fall during its second year of operation.

But a corn maze, which organizers estimated would cost between $25,000 and $100,000 to build for one season, a shrub maze and between $7,000 and $11,000 worth of fireworks will not happen on the city's dime.

Requests for $25,000 in advertising, $25,000 for printed promotional materials and $14,000 for bus shuttle service met a similar demise. And the council swiftly denied requests that came without concrete cost estimates, such as a greenhouse and new signage brackets installed on city light poles.

Had everything been approved, the overall request would have cost more than $100,000, according to cost estimates provided by the festival.

Organizer Rob Cramer remained quiet throughout most of the meeting, only speaking to answer clarification questions from council members and to thank the council for its consideration. He declined to comment to reporters after the meeting finished.

Last week, Cramer told The Gazette other cities had contacted him and offered to fulfill some of his requested items. He did not specify which cities had reached out to him or what they offered him.

As the offered services added up, Cramer put all the items on the list to see which were doable for Edgerton. He would prefer not to leave the city, he said last week.

Councilman Matt McIntyre said with all the people in attendance Wednesday, maybe somebody would be willing to help out with a few of the items denied by the council. But he was still surprised by Cramer's vision.

“It was a lot of requests. It's hard to digest all that,” McIntyre said. “I've been here 25 years and haven't seen anything like that.”

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