By David Fleet
Groveland Twp.- At the Dec. 13 township board of trustees discussed the parking and traffic issues that occurred at the Michigan Renaissance Festival which concluded its 42 year on Oct. 3.
While the festival was closed in 2020 due to the pandemic, the hiatus did not appear to deter a mass return of visitors to Hollygrove for the late summer event. Township officials say along with the fans came a host of transportation issues.
Township officials say the last three weekends of the festival had congestion and parking on Perryville, the West end of Groveland Road and Holdridge Road. In some cases an ambulance or any emergency vehicle could not have come through in case of emergency.
Trustee Jim Christopher, who also serves on the township planning commission reported a discussion of the traffic management associated with the Renaissance Festival.
“I would like to see at the Renaissance Festival’s expense a full traffic study,” said Christopher. “To defer to a (traffic) expert and to insist that we are not waiting until August to make a decision. If that means by January we need to let them know. There are matrices somewhere. I’m sure there are standards that should dictate.”
There needs to be objective set of standards, a tipping point where the gates are closed if these numbers are not realized, he added
The Groveland and Holly Township planning commissions would need to come together on the parking decision.
“Personally I will not sign off on a use permit and others on the planning commission agree,” he said.
Robert DePalma, township supervisor, agreed.
“This has been fixed at least two times in the past,” said DePalma. “But it never sticks for more than two or three years and then something no one anticipated happens. Then there’s no plan ‘B.’”
This needs to be collaboration not polarization, replied Christopher.
“Enough is enough for the community,” he said. “We need an objective third party opinion (regarding traffic and parking.)”
According to township officials Perryville Road had so many cars parked along the side an ambulance could not get down it. As a result more than 60 cars were towed according to the Michigan State Police and it’s a public safety issue.
The discussion followed an Oct. 6 meeting where local representatives from the Renaissance Festival, Michigan State Police, Oakland County Sheriff, Holly Township Supervisor’s office, Holly Fire Department officials, along with Groveland Township officials gathered to discuss the traffic concerns and possible rectifications.
“We could have had a death,” added Christopher. “I’m OK with fines.What went on was unacceptable.”
By David Fleet