Bradenton sets guidelines for Riverwalk events

jtate@bradenton.comAugust 22, 2013 

BRADENTON ­-- With the Riverwalk attracting thousands of people weekly to its amenities, including many who want to have parties or events there, the city decided to set event guidelines and procedures.

City officials revealed a drafted manual earlier this month complete with set rental prices, necessary permits and services a person would need to schedule an event at the Riverwalk, which will turn 1-year-old in October.

City council and city officials Wednesday hammered out the final details of the manual.

Dave Gustafson, director of the Downtown Development Authority, said the guidelines lay out procedures for reserving a Riverwalk venue and costs associated with it.

For a party with a proposed attendance of 500 people, for example, event planners would pay $300 per day, and may need to pay additional fees for services, including police, sanitation and insurance.

"We gave them all sorts of examples in the manual so we could justify our fees," said Gustafson.

All applicants must pay a $25 nonrefundable fee for the application process.

If adopted by city council, the new guidelines will be enforced by a Event Review Committee that will meet with applicants and guide them through the process.

Mayor Wayne Poston said the new manual is not meant to be prohibitive but transparent about what to do when considering an event at Riverwalk. He said he wants Riverwalk to be open to all people not just event planners.

"We're really clarifying the system rather than flying by the seat of our pants," said Poston.

In addition to new guidelines, the Riverwalk will have its own website, which is under construction by tech group, Spark Growth. Gustafson said the company will construct the site for free, a job that could easily have cost $100,000.

The site will allow venue bookings, amenity viewings and post answers to frequently asked questions.

The city is also working on guide

lines for vendors who will use the Riverwalk. Councilman Patrick Roff said he wants this to be a fair process to give all people a equal shot.

"It's going to be sought after and it has to be fair," he said.

Roff said a vendor who wants to come to Riverwalk should be unique.

"It would be the vendor's part to add to what we created," said Roff.

The city of Bradenton has partnered with Realize Bradenton so far on events such as the Bradenton Blues Festival. Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton, said selecting the right vendors depends on what is needed for an event.

"We check if they have the right health department certification, have they done events before or will they fit with the mix of the event," said Isham.

Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.

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