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ANOTHER LOOK Jamestown explores changing public assembly ordinance

The Jamestown Finance and Legal Committee is exploring regulations of public street performers who might play music or dance at the Hansen Arts Park, shown here. John M. Steiner / The Sun

The Jamestown Finance & Legal Committee authorized the city attorney to explore amending a current ordinance that may prohibit street performers in Jamestown.

Abby Geroux, assistant city attorney, told the committee Tuesday that ordinance Section 25-6 prohibits “any show or performance of any kind which may in any way obstruct public travel or cause a gathering of people upon any street …” without permission of the mayor or City Council.

The City Council had previously asked the city attorney to explore writing a busking ordinance that would require licensing and set regulations for street performers. The potential ordinance could have been patterned after an existing Fargo ordinance.

Councilman Steve Brubakken questioned why the city would consider a new ordinance when other ordinances were not being enforced. He singled out a vendor of political merchandise who has been marketing items along the street at the top of Mill Hill.

"I don’t care if we charge $1, but have them on record.

City RAMONE Council GUMKE member ,

Scott Edinger, Jamestown police chief, said the vendor had been investigated and information forwarded to the city attorney for possible prosecution.

“That could lead to complaints and warrants,” he said.

Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen said she wanted to see the existing ordinance modified to provide protection for free speech but also to provide regulation of people seeking economic compensation for performances in public areas such as the Hansen Arts Park.

Councilman Ramone Gumke said he wanted officials to know who was performing on public property.

He recounted an incident in the last two weeks where a man “doing his own interpretation of dance,” had followed Gumke and his family down the street in Jamestown seeking tips.

“I don’t care if we charge $1, but have them on record,” he said.

Geroux said she would prepare a draft of an amended version of the current ordinance for discussion at the Nov. 21 Finance and Legal Committee.

In other business, Andersen reported to the committee that she and Jeff Fuchs, city administrator, had been in discussions with Stutsman County regarding sources for funds to match a possible Community Development Block Grant of $150,000 to clean downed trees from the James River. Those discussions will likely continue this week, she said.

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