FULTON, Ill. — The request for a City Hall parking lot closure for an event prompted further discussion on street and road closures in Fulton at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

In April, Tourism Director Heather Bennett asked the council to approve closing 11th Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets on the second and fourth Thursdays of June, July and August for a new Community Night event. At the time, the council approved the closures.

During Monday’s meeting, Bennett came back with a request to close the City Hall parking lot from Second Reformed Church who will host the June 11 event. Bennett said the church group asked for additional space to make room for fire truck rides, two large bounce houses and portable basketball hoops. The event will also feature face painting, a dunk tank, carnival games, crafts, food and more.

“So they really are going to be doing a lot and this one block here isn’t going to cover it so they are asking to use the City Hall lot,” said Bennett. She asked that the lot be closed from 4 to 8:30 p.m.

The board approved the closure and discussed how to handle people who normally park in the lot. The council talked about placing flyers on these vehicles a week prior to inform them the lot could not be used on that day.

Alderman Bill Loerop, Third Ward, said he felt this incident further highlighted the need for a plan and specific criteria for road closures. This issue was recently in the middle of a controversy during the council’s May 4 meeting when the board agreed to close Fourth Street for the Blessing of the Bikes amidst mixed opinions from Fulton business owners and residents.

“I will feel funny now if next month another group comes to the council saying, ‘We’re going to have a wheel barrel contest on Main Street. Will you close the streets?’” Loerop said.

Loerop said the council needs to set a plan to determine which events warrant street closures. He said possible criteria could include the size of the event and safety issues. Loerop stressed that he would like the council to develop this plan during a calm time, instead of during a heated issue, like the Blessing of the Bikes.

“You make decisions when you’re under the gun. It’s not always the best time to make decisions,” said Loerop.

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