Published October 12. 2012 4:00AM
Discouraging, depressing, outrageous - take your pick. The fact that bickering forces in New London could not work out their differences for something as wholesome as a parade is not a good sign.
Unless something changes, the group that for the last few years organized the increasingly popular "Irish Parade" on St. Patrick's Day will be taking their parade out of town, potentially to Niantic. Meanwhile, the Finizio administration announced the formation of a new group to organize a parade to replace it. Next up, we suspect, will be a fight over parade participants.
Petty politics certainly played a role in this. City Councilor Marie Friess-McSparran, president of the New London Irish Parade Inc. (will it be changing its name?) and Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, though both Democrats, have a fractious relationship. Ms. Friess-McSparran backed another candidate in the 2011 mayoral election and has seldom supported the mayor since. The mayor is convinced that she contrived the controversy about the parade to try to embarrass him.
Frankly, we don't know. What we do know is adults should be able to compromise about holding a parade, even if they don't like each other.
As for the details, the administration's proposal to accommodate the Irish Parade appears reasonable. By executive order, the mayor is requiring organizers of all such public events to pay upfront the cost of police and public works support. The mayor said the city will issue a permit if the nonprofit group agrees to pay $7,500. That would cover the cost of the shorter route through downtown the parade used until this year. The new longer route would raise the cost another $4,000.
Since the parade is a City Council sanctioned event, the committee contends the city should be willing to issue a permit for the longer route at the lower cost. Given the fiscal constraints facing New London, insisting on the longer route and having the city assume the extra cost does not seem reasonable.
Downtown New London Association Executive Director Barbara Neff, who does a great job organizing the SailFest event every July, will head a new parade committee along with event coordinator Sean Murray. They plan to hold the parade Sunday, March 17. We wish the organizers well.
Our preference, however, would have been for everyone to iron out their differences and work together. Who knows, maybe they still can.