Should bounce houses be outlawed on city of New London property?
That was a question posed to the New London Finance & Personnel Committee when it met, Wednesday, Feb. 5.
Chad Hoerth, Parks and Recreation director, informed the committee the issue came to light in the middle of 2013 when Cities and Villages Mutual Insurance Company (CVMIC) sent out information recommending that municipalities outlaw bounce houses on city property due to injury claims in other parts of the country.
That correspondence also stated that if the city felt it still wanted to allow bounce houses, that they only be approved by the city with a signed indemnification and a minimum of a $2 million liability insurance policy naming the city an additional insured.
Hoerth said he forwarded the information to Earl Luaders, city attorney, and he recommended following CVMIC’s recommendation to outlaw bounce houses on city property.
CVMIC also provided results from a survey of other municipalities as to how they are handling the issue. Of the nine communities in the survey, only two were following the CVMIC’s recommendation to outlaw bounce houses. Four others required insurance policies, while two others were researching the issue for possible changes in the future.
Hoerth told the committee that he estimated 6-12 occasions each year where bounce houses are used for public or private events on city property. He added that the city has used bounce houses in the past, but not within the past two years.
He told the committee they have three options to choose from — do nothing, outlaw bounce houses on city property, or require people to sign an indemnification and obtain insurance.
When asked by the committee, Luaders reaffirmed his position.
“I kind of relied on CVMIC to be honest with you. They are our insurer. They have our best interests at heart,” Lauders said.
Hoerth added, “Obviously if they’re recommending a $2 million policy that tells you something.”
Rather than outlawing bounce houses, members of the committee discussed requiring a signed indemnification and a $2 million insurance policy, to see if that cut down on the instances people wanted to use bounce houses on city property.
The Park and Recreation Department probably won’t use bounce houses anymore, Hoerth added.
“It’s said,” Hoerth said. “I mean are we going to start outlawing playgrounds.”
The committee unanimously recommended that the council create a policy that stated any group that has a bounce house as part of their activities be required to have a $2 million liability insurance policy that names the city as an additional insured and also have a signed indemnification. The issue went before the city council at its meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 11.
The committee also unanimously agreed to recommend approving a loan up to $20,000 to the New London Girls Youth Softball Association to renovate the concession stand at Memorial Park. The loan would be for a four year term at no interest. The loan would be similar to the one Youth Baseball took out with the city for the Pfeifer Park bathroom/shed project.
The current estimate to renovate the concession stand at Memorial Park is $17,200.
The issue went before the entire city council at its February meeting.
Apartment building update
The committee unanimously agreed to recommend authorizing the city administrator to proceed with the development agreement between the city and Nicolet Lumber to build three apartment buildings on the property behind Walgreens. The agreement would limit the city’s cost to $56,000 for water and sewer lines.
To protect the city’s interest, Kent Hager, city administrator, told the committee the developer would be reimbursed after they complete construction of the three 12-unit apartments.
He also informed the committee that the sewer line is on the far side of the street, but the water line is on the other side. The $56,000 estimate included the cost for boring under Shawano Street to get the sewer line, but that might not be necessary.
“Hopefully this will be a lot less than what we thought it would be,” Hager said.
This issue went before the entire council at its February meeting.