[media-credit name=’MATTHEW KUTZ/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′][/media-credit]
Between the Crazylegs Classic and the Dane County Farmer’s Market, the city of Madison was bustling this weekend while more than 15,000 people celebrated the annual Mifflin Street Block Party.
Approximately 100 police officers kept the block party under control, according to a release, with the crowd on Mifflin Street reaching 20,000 at 3 p.m.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the fire and police departments believe it was one of the safest block parties in history and the event went “quite well.”
“The cops were able to go home in record time,” Verveer said, adding the police officers usually work until midnight but were able to leave Mifflin Street by 10 p.m. this year. “I don’t think things ever would have gone this smoothly if we had not officially designated the 30th as the official party date.
Although emergency responses from the fire department were 30 percent lower this year, according to a release, three Madison police officers were “struck with projectiles” and one police officer was taken to a hospital.
“We’re concerned because there were two officers that were hit with bottles [Saturday] night,” Lt. Carl Strasburg of the Madison Police Department said.
The MPD made 225 arrests, the majority of the citations involving city ordinances such as open intoxicants and underage drinking. An open intoxicant ticket is $288 and a first-offense underage drinking ticket is $164, Strasburg said.
A total of 317 citations were issued to students from University of Wisconsin, Madison Area Technical College and the University of Minnesota.
At least 10 house parties were ticketed for dispensing alcohol without a permit and providing alcohol to underage people, a release said, adding some house parties had as many as 20 kegs.
George Twigg, spokesperson for Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, said once the date of the party was settled, the mayor was “optimistic” the city would encounter few problems.
“[The mayor] was glad the event went fairly smoothly,” Twigg said.
After speaking with a city attorney, Cieslewicz sent a response to the 11 alders that requested Associated Students of Madison pay for the costs of the block party after the date was changed.
Because ASM did not request to be a sponsor of the annual event and did not enter into a contract with the city, it could not be held responsible for costs of the party, the letter said.
“We share the concern … about the additional expense from the date change, but we didn’t have a legal case,” Twigg said.
However, Cieslewicz said he will send an account of the costs of this year’s block party to student leaders, informing the students of the large amount of money spent on the annual event, according to the letter.
Verveer said, as he predicted, the number of citations issued during the block party will cover most of the cost of policing the event.
“The argument of the City Council members … as well as the concerns generally of the community — of the taxpayers — as a whole should be put at ease,” Verveer said. “We are talking about tens of thousands of dollars worth of fines.”
Despite an official date change only a week before the festivities this year, next year the city will face the same dilemma, according to Verveer.
Saturday, May 1, 2006, lands on the university’s official study day, Verveer said, adding he will fight for the date to be changed again to the weekend before.
“The important thing is to make sure everyone plans better for next year, so we don’t run into the issues with cost that we ran into this year,” Twigg said.