Government Cooperation Is Key

Thomas O'Neill III, Peoria County Board

For Peoria County government, a certain level of cooperation with other local units of government must always exist, considering we share constituents with the 20 townships and 15 municipalities that lie within county boundaries. This intergovernmental cooperation helps cut costs, enhances public safety, improves infrastructure and reduces duplication of services. Once in a while, however, extraordinary circumstances dictate an even higher level of cooperation to better ensure the well-being of all citizens and visitors. One such instance is the Country Life Music Festival, coming to Ravina On The Lakes later this month.

Ravina On The Lakes lies just outside the City of Peoria, under the jurisdiction of county government, but the neighborhoods surrounding it are located within city limits. It is residents in these Peoria neighborhoods who will be most affected by the increased traffic and large crowds resulting from the three-day concert series. Only by collaborating together are the County and City able to ensure a successful event, both in terms of economic benefits for the community and by keeping residents in the nearby neighborhoods happy.

To bolster this collaboration, County and City staff met frequently with the concert promoter during the event's planning phase to address public safety, public health, crowd control, traffic, noise and other issues that arise when a popular event comes to a venue that is mostly adjacent to heavily-populated neighborhoods. Invited by Peoria County's Emergency Management Agency, top administrators from both governments—along with police, fire, public health, public works, and planning and zoning officials—were brought together to share concerns and discuss solutions in the interest of a successful event.

These intergovernmental meetings resulted in a better understanding of departmental activities so the County would know what the City was doing and vice versa, and the promoter would know exactly what was expected of them. A comprehensive list of County and City requirements was compiled to expedite event compliance with all applicable ordinances and requests. Items on the list included on- and off-site parking, access to the venue, public health issues, contingency plans for emergencies, and more. This type of cooperation—between the two units of government and the promoter—led to the successful resolution of all governmental concerns and the development of an event action plan to address the potential for emergencies during the festival.

To help ease resident concerns, the Charter Oak Homeowners Association hosted a public meeting that granted the City Council and County Board, Peoria County Sheriff's Office, and Peoria Police an opportunity to answer questions and explain traffic control and safety plans. While both governments have much experience managing public safety for events of this magnitude, residents in the surrounding neighborhoods are not as accustomed to the heavy traffic and large crowds. With the public's input, law enforcement developed a coordinated plan for public safety, traffic control and emergencies during the concert—cooperative efforts that have been reassuring to neighboring residents.

Residents may also be happy to know that costs associated with implementation of the public safety and event action plans will be incurred by the concert promoter, not by taxpayers. With regard to the Country Life Music Festival, intergovernmental cooperation between Peoria County and the City of Peoria will result in a successful event that equates not only to an economic boost for local businesses, but also to safe and happy residents. A win-win for everyone. iBi

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