Festival move to Riverfest Park poses problems
After much discussion last week, the De Soto City Council approved the De Soto Days Festival Committee's request to use Riverfest Park with the condition it develop a pedestrian plan. The decision came after some residents in attendance questioned the decision to move the festival from Miller Park to the new park on 79th Street until sidewalks connect downtown to the new park.
Council members correctly stated the decision to move the festival was that of its organizing committee, which is not a part of the city or under its control.
But it is also correct that decision was made with an invitation from the city. The idea of moving the festival to Riverfest Park was first voiced publicly at at a council meeting when the park's design was being considered two years ago. It has been pretty much assumed since that would be the home of the festival, starting this year.
The only hiccup in that plan stemmed from the reservations carnival owner John Evans had with the move. He put those reservations behind him after visiting the new park, sometimes with the city's park director.
At this late date in planning, the council had little choice but to approve the permit. And park has many features that should improve an already good annual festival.
However, there are problems with pedestrian access to the park caused by the lack of sidewalks, lighting and the shoulderless span over a deep ravine. There is nothing that can be done about the bridge now, but it does seem the city could take steps to help ensure foot traffic stay off the road until it gets to that point either from the placement of wood chips as was brought to the park last spring for pathways or, perhaps, some of the milling that is to be removed from 83rd Street. Cones and signage could alert drivers to possible pedestrian traffic in that span.
Looking to the future, the lighting and access oversights needs to be corrected as quickly as possible if the park is to fulfill its potential.