If the Coventry Street Arts Fair comes back in the summer of 2013, it won't be exactly as residents remember it, said Steve Presser, owner of Big Fun and marketing director for the Coventry Village Special Improvement District.
Presser had organized a public meeting for Tuesday, Oct. 16, to discuss ideas for the possible fair but announced the meeting was canceled today.
"We’re not going to have it as people remember us having it – the closed street, and traffic shut down to cars. We're going to try to figure out something creatively, maybe incorporate Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park," Presser said.
He said the festival may have similar logistics to summer events in the Cedar Lee and Cedar Fairmount festivals, where the main streets are left open to traffic. But he needs to confirm those details before hosting a public meeting.
The Coventry SID planned two Coventry Street Arts Fairs in 2011, but the second one was canceled after the first fair, which .
Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson said that police arrested 16 teenagers for fighting or drinking alcohol after the fair on June 26, and though it was difficult to determine, he estimated hundreds of kids congregated in the street.
Mayor Ed Kelley said it was lucky that there wasn't a fatal injury.
"I don't want anybody hurt on my watch ... There were all of those arrests, a young man tried to grab a police officer's gun ..." Kelley said.
The problems prompted officials to cancel the fair in 2012. And City Council established a 6 p.m. curfew law for minors in the Coventry and Cedar Lee business districts, which were later amended to make exceptions for kids patronizing businesses and concert venues and expanded to Severance.
The chaos was coined a "flash mob," and it led to debates and discussions among local police forces and city officials about how to prevent the large gatherings, as other cities had similar issues.
Instead of having multiple festivals as had been planned in past summers, Presser said they will probably shoot for one event in July.
The Coventry SID is also discussing other summer events — last year, the district hosted . They also continued the Thursday night Music & Movies Under The Stars.
But nothing has been confirmed yet for this summer.
"The community really has to buy into this. We don’t want to put the events on and have no one show up. These are ideas that we’re going to ask them," Presser said. "We have to figure out what’s going to be fun and capture people’s enthusiasm and enjoyment."
For example, the SID may look into splitting the music and movies night in the park on separate nights.
Everything is still in the works. Presser said Coventry SID still needs to meet with police and fire officials, merchants and more to "find out what is practical and best for everybody."
Kelley said whatever is planned, it has to be safe.
"To me, it’s very simple. We’re not going to have a street festival like we used to have to on Coventry when there’s still problems," Kelley said, citing the Shaker Heights fireworks and other events that had problems over the summer. "Until we can make sure it’s going to be a safe environment, we’re not going back to old type of street fairs.
"I don’t want to have 50 or 60 policemen down there trying to maintain law and order."
A meeting to discuss a 2013 Coventry Street Arts Fair should be confirmed soon. Until then, people can send suggestions about that and other Coventry summer events to Steve Presser at email@example.com