Dear Editor,

The Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras board of directors was quite surprised to read the May 20 Morgan Hill Times editorial. We believe the opinion piece only told one side of the story.

As a board, we feel it is important and necessary to inform the Morgan Hill community of the “facts” involving some problems we have encountered this year by a few select downtown merchants.

The Morgan Hill Times editorial stated we could have closed Monterey Road at 9pm, as prescribed in last year’s guidelines adopted by the Morgan Hill City Council. What it didn’t say was the guidelines, which were unanimously approved by the Morgan Hill Downtown Association, also gave approval for a street closure three hours prior to holding a Friday evening event. We were informed that if we held a Friday night event at 7pm, we could close Monterey Road at 4pm.

Last year we closed Monterey at 7pm and that was our intent this year. Unfortunately, the new guidelines didn’t give us that option, so it was either close at 9pm, or hold a Friday night event and close at 4pm. Due to the large amount of set-up, which is done mostly by volunteers, and most of our vendors, who also need to set up Friday evening, we would not be able to hold the event with a 9pm street closure. It’s not a matter of convenience; it’s a matter of holding a quality event with enough time to set-up. Therefore, we selected the same option as the Taste of Morgan Hill, which is a similar event, and which closed Monterey Road at 5pm on Friday, due to its street dance. We had also made every effort to inform downtown merchants of our street closure plans. We met with the city staff, the Morgan Hill Police Department and Public Works in February, announced the 4pm street closure at the Morgan Hill Downtown Associations’ annual breakfast in March, and mailed a letter on April 11 to ALL downtown merchants and businesses informing them of the 4pm street closure. Not until two weeks prior to the event, did we hear any opposition to the 4pm street closure, at which time the bands were already hired and all arrangements had been finalized for our street dance.

In regards to Poppy’s Fish Market losing money due to outhouses taking over Third Street, that is simply not true. As a matter of fact, we are not closing any of the side streets on Friday, so everyone has full access to downtown parking lots and frontage parking. We had even asked Public Works to make special signs at the end of each side street announcing that the parking lots and downtown businesses are open on Friday night. By scheduling the Sobrato High School Jazz Band and the South Bay Swing Band, it was our intention, as well as the Downtown Association’s festival guideline intentions, to enhance the downtown’s Friday night business, not take away from their sales.

Misinformation is the cause of most misunderstandings. I have personally walked downtown and talked to downtown merchants for their feedback, which, for the majority, has been very positive. We have held numerous meetings and have always been willing to meet with any downtown business that has concerns. We have encouraged all downtown businesses to set up booths in front of their stores. To date, we have never denied a downtown business vendor space to promote their business.

The Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras has been and will continue to be a quality community event that supports many nonprofit clubs and organizations and has provided more than $500,000 in scholarships to local high school seniors. The festival is produced to support our community, not to take away from it.

Dan Sullivan

President, Board of Directors

Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras

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