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The Daily Tar Heel

Council Considers Halloween Options

The council hosted a sparsely attended public forum Monday night to present a memorandum of seven potential planning options for Halloween 2002 and to seek comment from town officials and residents. One option discussed was canceling the event, though that seems unlikely.

The council decided with little discussion to refer the options to Town Manager Cal Horton and his staff for consideration.

Two years ago, Halloween drew a record crowd of 50,000 to Franklin Street. The event forced the town to fork over almost $75,000 in clean-up and law enforcement costs.

In 2001, officials worked to reduce that number, costing an additional $33,000 because of the increase in traffic and crowd control. The number of revelers was cut in half, but council members say they want a more fair, permanent plan.

At Monday's forum, Chapel Hill Police Chief Gregg Jarvies presented the seven different options to the council.

Horton said he isn't optimistic about squelching turnout. "This is an event that draws people from all over the state," he said.

The proposed options for controlling the Halloween celebration in the downtown area range from ridding the town of the event to creating a friendly coexistence between town and festival.

The most expensive choice, reaching a cost of about $115,000, limits the size of the celebration to 25,000. This is the plan that was implemented in 2001.

The second option would bring back Halloweens of the past, which most likely would mean a crowd of 50,000 and a $90,000 price tag. This option puts less restriction on the movement of people and vehicles in the downtown area.

Option three marries the first two by increasing traffic and crowd regulations and but costs $100,000 because of less stringent enforcement.

Three other options address moving the event or hosting a different event altogether, which would aim to draw a more family-oriented crowd.

The final option would eliminate Halloween festivities altogether. This plan would require aggressive police enforcement, and the memorandum recognizes potential implications of shutting down the celebration -- such as more arrests, property damage and injuries.

After the presentation, the floor was opened up for public comment. Scott Gardner, a representative of Duke Power Company, asked the council to consider safety. "I have a deep concern when citizens in revelry climb utility poles."

Aaron Nelson, the director of Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, expressed his appreciation to the council for discussing possible options to come to a fair conclusion.

"I would like to thank the council for taking the time to review these options in public forums," Nelson said. "These are some very creative solutions."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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