- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Traverse City commissioners have agreed not to shorten the National Cherry Festival or move it out of the Open Space Park as some residents have suggested.

Commissioners decided Monday to improve parking for people with disabilities and to try recouping more costs to the city from the eight-day July festival, the Traverse City Record-Eagle (https://bit.ly/1sjY2vn ) reported. They said they will work with organizers to shorten the amount of time they take for setup, but they didn’t pursue some residents’ calls to downsize the whole event.

“I was pleased,” said Trevor Tkach, the executive director of Cherry Festival. “Some of the things they initially pointed out they have changed their direction on a little bit. From what I witnessed a majority of them want to have a conversation and make this a stronger partnership.”

Only a couple of residents asked commissioners to draw the national event back to a local celebration. But most other Traverse City residents, business owners, volunteers and cherry farmers supported the continuation of the festival as is.

“I like the word ‘national’ in our little town of Traverse City,” said Mark Jensen, a local business owner who visited the festival for the first time when he was 11. “It is nice to have a national event.”

Commissioners want to raise the cap they charge the festival for services. The limit is currently $45,000, but officials said the cost to the city is about $62,000.

“This is going to take time,” Commissioner Gary Howe said. “I just want to see improvement every year.”

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, https://www.record-eagle.com

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