Officials field complaints about downtown Princeton community events

Princeton – Dog groomer Roxanne Hayes of Hayes K-9 grooming on First Street addressed the Princeton City Council at its Aug. 10 meeting asking for “something to be done” about the street closures and leftover trash from downtown celebrations such as the block party and the Rum River Festival parade.

She characterized the mess in the streets after both events as “unbelievable” with candy, trash, food and items such as baby bottles that party guests forget. Hayes said she stepped into trash the next morning after both events but said the mess after the block party was especially bad, including sticky candy and food remnants.
She said her and her husband work hard at their family company and that the street closures both times had caused them to lose business. Not all people have a “nice” dog they’re comfortable walking several blocks, and customers complained about the trash they and their animals had to step through to get to their appointment.
She said it is not fair to leave downtown business owners with a big mess. She claims the trash sits sometimes for days and that a street sweeper once during the business day does not capture the garbage.
“I don’t understand why we’re not notified when the street is closing,” said Hayes.
She thought the block party began at 4 p.m., but she said the street closed at 11:30 a.m. that day. Hayes said she knew it was closing only because somebody put a hand-sanitizing station in the middle of Rum River Drive near her shop door.
She said the event organizers do not notify affected business owners but should so that plans can be made. Hayes said businesses don’t hear from the event organizers other than requests to buy exhibitor-booth space. She said neither she nor her clients knew about the street closure, and it disrupted business.
Hayes said all the business along the closed streets need access maintained for their customers. The business owner said she’s been grooming for 40 years and on Princeton’s main street for 12 years.
She said the business maintains good standing, keeps its storefront clean and spruces up its area before the downtown events. Hayes suggested holding such festivals and events in the two mini-mall parking lots, where they would not disrupt traffic and business on the main street.
She said, “I don’t know what you guys want to do, but we have to be notified when the street is closing down.”
Mayor Paul Whitcomb replied that Hayes’ complaint is not the first the city has received about garbage after events and about festival setup happening “way too early.” There have been grievances about people drinking beer outside the garden area as well. He said the city needs to hold organizers responsible for all aspects of their events or consider discontinuing them.