During its first planning meeting Wednesday evening, March 29, the Hyde Park 4th on 53rd Parade and Picnic Committee voted to pay the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce a fee to “produce” its 2017 4th on 53rd events, which include a parade, a picnic and the George Franklin Memorial Summer Sunday Concert Series.
At the Wednesday night meeting, Stephanie Franklin, who has been the chairwoman of the Hyde Park 4th on 53rd Parade and Picnic Committee for about 25 years, announced that she would be stepping down from her post. She will remain on the committee as immediate past chair. On the heels of her announcement, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Wallace Goode gave a presentation showing how the chamber could help the committee handle the capacity of its growing events.
As the popularity of the parade, picnic and concert series increases and participation expands, the chamber is offering to help the committee, which is a part of the Nichols Park Advisory Council, stay organized and attract a new wave of volunteers, for a fee.
The chamber is charging the committee a consultant fee of $1,500 for hours put in to organizing the 4th on 53rd parade and picnic. The chamber is also charging a $500 fee for organizing the summer concert series, which is named in the memory of Stephanie Franklin’s late husband.
“It is a great event and we don’t want to see it lose momentum,” said Goode about the parade during an interview a day after the meeting. “With Stephanie’s announcement, it only made sense that we would step up.”
Goode said the chamber will work to balance the charm of the Hyde Park Parade with efficiency.
“As Hyde Park grows there will be a different type of Hyde Parker in the neighborhood,” said Goode, who added that the chamber will attempt to engage incoming residents. “Those moving into the new high rise buildings may only be here for a short time and they tend not to get as involved as those who buy houses here and raise their families.”
Goode said, as immediate past chair, Franklin would be an advisor and hands-on volunteer.
Franklin did not return repeated phone calls for comment by Herald press time.
Hyde Park resident and Nichols Park Advisory Council member Timika Hoffman-Zoller, who has been a committee member for four years, said it would be nice to get new residents involved as the parade grows in capacity.
“Each year gets larger than the last and this year, organizations outside of our community want to be a part of the parade,” Hoffman-Zoller said.
Hoffman-Zoller said the Nichols Park Advisory Council’s arrangement with the chamber is only for one year. After the summer events have concluded, the council will look at the reports and determine whether the committee needs the chamber’s help going forward.
She said with Franklin stepping down and the South East Chicago Commission’s (SECC) Diane Burnham, who handled a lot of the administrative work for the committee, stepping back to fulfill the commitments of her recent promotion the committee needs the chamber’s help.
“It’s still a community event, it’s still run by volunteers we just need someone to organize it,” Hoffman-Zoller said. “I don’t think $1500 is too much to ask for all the time and effort the chamber is offering.
Wendy Walker Williams, executive director of the SECC, said the committee’s need to hire the chamber to help handle capacity is a testament to hard working volunteers such as Burnham.
“Diane’s hard work paid off,” Williams said. “Now that she has helped build capacity and the committee is now able to hire someone is wonderful.”
Burnham, who was actively involved with the 4th on 53rd Committee for six years, has been promoted from community engagement for the SECC to economic development coordinator. The additional responsibilities of her job leaves her little time to be as deeply involved as she was in helping the 4th on 53rd Committee but Walker said the SECC will still do what they can to help out.
“Although we can’t dedicate a person to the committee, the SECC will still do all that we can to be supportive as possible,” Williams said.
Hyde Park resident Camille Hamilton Doyle, who has been a long time member of the committee and a member of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference – the fiscal agent of Nichols Park, said the chamber should not charge a fee for helping the committee.
“The chamber has volunteered for three years doing the same thing that it now wants to be paid for,” Hamilton Doyle said.
She said as the event attracts more and more people to the neighborhood the chamber benefits because local businesses benefit from the increased foot traffic.
She questioned the chamber’s need for the $2,000 fee and said she feels the chamber should offer help in a different way.
“The chamber should be the one helping us get more resources through business partnerships not charging us,” Hamilton Doyle said.