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DOT puts more regs on parades

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 May 2013 at 12:00 am

Albion mayor: ‘We’re not going to stop having parades’

Photo by Tom Rivers – The Albion marching band performs during a Memorial Day parade last year along Route 98.

ALBION – More police officers, more flag men, more barricaded side streets. That’s what Albion and other communities may face if the want to continue having parades during Memorial Day and for other community celebrations.

“They put out these requirements and it puts the dollars on us,” Roland Nenni, the Albion police chief, told the Village Board.

The state Department of Transportation wants detailed plans from communities at least a month in advance of a parade on a state road. The DOT says the municipality will either have to post a detour when there is a parade or have police officers, peace officers and certified flag men at strategic locations along the parade route.

In Orleans County, auxiliary police officers technically aren’t peace officers and can not be used to meet the DOT requirements, Nenni said. And the fire police from the Fire Department also aren’t technically peace officers or certified flag men.

Albion wants to limit the number of police officers and Department of Public Works employees for traffic control because of over-time costs. Those employees likely would be busy with other tasks anyway, especially during the Strawberry Festival.

“We’re not going to stop having parades, and we’re not going to spend a small fortune for having parades, I mean come on,” Mayor Dean Theodorakos said.

Nenni believes there is way to use fire police for traffic control during a parade. If they are on the route to provide emergency egress for fire trucks, Nenni thinks they could also direct traffic and appease DOT’s requirements. The village could also sent up pylons at some intersections to block off traffic.

“We’ll work to comply as cheaply as possible,” Nenni said.

Many communities have complained about the new requirements from the DOT, and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, said he is in “continuous contact” with the DOT, telling them to back off the onerous requirements.

“Our community has maintained many proud traditions throughout the generations, and holding parades to honor our veterans, fire departments and citizens is an integral part of our identity,” Hawley said. “The DOT’s plan seeks to bring all of that to an end. Meddling in a practice that we have conducted safely and successfully for countless decades is a glaring example of big government run amok.”