Memorial Day cookout in question

Published 6:50 am Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The fate of the Friends and Family cookout traditionally held in the Earle May Boat Basin each year around Memorial Day is in up in the air, at least for this year.

As of Tuesday night’s Bainbridge City Council meeting, the event’s organizers—a community group called Black Men United—had not yet come to terms with city officials over key requirements which would have to be in place before the cookout could take place on Sunday, May 30. James Lodman Sr., representing Black Men United, requested the use of the Boat Basin on that date at the council’s May 4 meeting.

For the past couple of years, the cookout took place in the Boat Basin on the first Sunday in June, after city officials—citing concerns about security and vehicle traffic—gave Black Men United the choice of moving the date or moving the location. Lodman told the council recently the event drew poor turnout after being moved to June, hence the request to go back to its traditional date and location.

Email newsletter signup

But to do so, Black Men United would have to meet city officials’ request to pay for the assignment of 10 Public Safety officers to handle security at the event, in addition to any private security staff which might be hired. The 10 officers would be in addition to any others already assigned to patrol throughout the city as part of their normal duty, City Manager Chris Hobby said. Hiring the officers for about four hours during the late afternoon hours, when the Boat Basin would be filled with recreational boaters and cookout attendees, would cost about $1,000, a sum Hobby said the group was amenable to.

The second requirement would be for the group to have a temporary worker’s compensation policy which would protect the city from any costs related to officers being injured while working, in addition to a general liability insurance policy. So far, the group hasn’t had any luck acquiring such a policy, although city officials are attempting to assist them, Hobby said.

Hobby said it was his understanding that if the group cannot get a workers’ compensation policy, it may decide to forego the event for this year rather than wait until June.