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ToyFest assured park use next summer

East Aurora village officials are scrutinizing guidelines recommended for outside organizations that want to use the village's popular Hamlin Park, although the village informally assured ToyFest on Monday that the weekend-long event could continue in the park next summer.

Use of the park -- along with measuring noise levels of various events held there -- dominated the Village Board's work session.

Last fall, village and town leaders voiced their concerns about longterm maintenance and preservation of the overused park and its aging trees, particularly since some the park's baseball diamond was recently refurbished for $15,000.

The debate among town and village leaders in October led some to suggest that ToyFest should be relocated within the park, or even be moved to Knox Farm State Park. But Monday, village officials were willing to give informal assurance to the ToyFest Steering Committee that ToyFest is safe for at least another year in Hamlin Park.

However, ToyFest still will have to file a formal application with the village and review village stipulations or changes as the August event draws closer.

The Village Board quashed the town's interest in changing the community's Independence Day fireworks celebration in Hamlin Park to July 4 from its traditional July 3 date. Some town officials had speculated that if the date were changed to July 4, crowds would be smaller as non-Aurora residents would attend their own hometown festivities instead.

Mayor David DiPietro, a longtime coordinator of the event and the fireworks fundraising drive, insisted that it needs to remain on July 3 and that families plan get-togethers around that date. The board sided with him.

Meanwhile, village trustees and the Friends of Hamlin Park advisory group are continuing to tweak guidelines the group recommended for events held in the park for more than 100 people. The village wants those requests filed 60 days in advance.

The decibel meter issue sparked debate on the board. DiPietro and others are opposed to using a decibel meter to monitor noise levels for park events. If the village considered monitoring sound in the park, it would have to develop a villagewide policy so that it wouldn't be arbitrary, said Village Administrator Kimberly LaMarche.

DiPietro was surprised to see decibel readings recommended in the park policy and cited examples of inconsistencies last summer with park and neighborhood noise.

"I ran around all summer in the park with a decibel meter," he said, noting that concerts could generate a decibel reading of between 60 and 75, and yet a neighbor would start up his leaf blower, nudging the meter reading to 90 decibels.

"It's very arbitrary. It's what people like or don't like," the mayor said.

Cooke said she initially was against noise level checks until she attended a Wednesday evening summer concert and sat on a resident's porch across from the park and said no one could hear their conversation.

"We do want to have entertainment in the park, but we don't want to blast our neighbors," she said.


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