LE ROY, N.Y. -- The Oatka Festival has been a tradition in Le Roy for many years, and it kicks off with a parade that draws thousands. But organizers worry changes from the State Department of Transportation could threaten the parade's future.
Currently, municipalities can issue permits for parades, even if they are on state property, and the rules say they must "coordinate" with their regional NYSDOT office. But a proposed change would require the muncipalities to get a permit from the state, instead of simply regulating the parades themselves.
Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said that "would place expensive, overreaching mandates on parade organizers" by requiring them to possibly get expensive bonds and insurance coverage, submit "overly-detailed plans to DOT" and to follow more onerous state guidelines than before.
Lynne Belluscio, co-chair of the Oatka parade, said she worries about the parade's future when these changes take effect next year.
"The thought of not being able to afford the parade because of the additional insurance and all the fees and everything that are going to be coming down the line for next year is pretty glum," Belluscio said.
But Jennifer Post, a spokesperson for NYSDOT, said the changes will actually make the process easier.
Because "coordination" was already required, Post said essentially nothing will change for parade organizers.
"We're simplifying the process," Post said, adding that no new fees or financial requirements will be placed on parade organizers.
She said municipalities will simply have to fill out what's expected to be a one-page form explaining the parade location, route, traffic management plan, etc.
Still, some lawmakers say they're concerned anytime a new permit or regulation comes from Albany.
"How can state government possibly think that interfering in our local parades is the best use of time and resources?" Hawley asked.
State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer wouldn't rule out legislation to possibly prevent the new permitting requirement, but he said he hopes by working with local officials he can convince the NYSDOT to reconsider.