RACINE — The organization behind Racine’s annual Fourth of July parade is looking for a solution for float creators as the city plans to demolish one of the buildings where that activity has been housed in recent years.
The city decided to change course on a proposed riverfront development plan known as Machinery Row and now plans to raze the buildings within that area along Water Street, east of Marquette Street. Now, the Fourth Fest of Greater Racine board, which plans the Fourth of July parade and fireworks show, worries it will lose the Water Street building where some of the floats are built and stored. The leaders of the organization are asking city officials to help them come up with a solution to maintain the caliber of celebration that has been presented for more than 80 years.
David Maack, the president of the Fourth Fest board and a former alderman, said the parade floats require a building with tall doors because of the size of the floats. He said the the organization has requested the city wait to demolish the 1010 Water St. building until it’s necessary so that the parade group has time to work out its float needs.
Some people affiliated with the parade approached the City Council at its Nov. 21 meeting to ask that the issue be addressed.
Alderman Sandy Weidner, who represents Racine’s 6th District, requested that the council’s Committee of the Whole discuss the matter. Dennis Wiser, the 10th District alderman and council president, said he would schedule the issue for a discussion.
Mayor Cory Mason said the ownership situation for the buildings presents some complications at this time, because the city’s Redevelopment Authority has not yet taken possession of them. Without jurisdiction over the property, he said, the city cannot make decisions about occupants.
“It’s a timing issue, and it’s a possession issue,” he said.
Maack said he understands the city’s long-term plan for redeveloping the area and believes the council will make a reasonable decision.
City Administrator James Palenick said the city anticipates demolition in the area will start in late spring, but no firm dates have been set for when any individual building will come down.
Palenick said the city hopes to also find a solution that fulfills everyone’s goals.
“The key is, we want to make sure they can continue doing what they do, but do so in a place that won’t be threatened in the future,” he said.