Farmington officials: Founders Festival needs a plan

Farmington officials can’t do anything about plans to move Founders Festival from downtown Farmington to Shiawassee Park, but they’d like to help guide the event’s future.

During Monday’s city council meeting, a few residents spoke against the move, and scores have commented on social media. The Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the event, received permit approvals on December 3.

Since that time, reactions on the Farmington Voice and Chamber Facebook pages have been largely negative, with questions raised about parking, effects on downtown businesses and related events, the potential for muddy grounds, and difficulty navigating the grounds for people with disabilities and parents using strollers.

Council member Bill Galvin sees the move as an opportunity for downtown merchants to fill the void left by the July festival and create their own activities. He’s also looking beyond 2019 and suggested having the city’s Economic and Community Development staff organize a planning activity that would give citizens a voice.

“It’s dawned on me that we have always taken a top-down approach,” Galvin said. “I think it’s time we gave the Founders Festival back to the citizens.”

Mayor Steven Schneemann pointed out that Founders Festival is a community event, and the Chamber may not always manage it. He said officials should reach out to Farmington Hills council members and talk about the Festival’s future.

“I want to do everything we can to make this something positive for our community moving forward,” he said.