While organizers have social distancing restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, the annual What the Truck food truck event in Utica is scheduled to kick off tonight for a new season.
Across county lines, however, plans for food truck rallies this summer in two local villages remain up in the air.
Organizers are preparing for the second year of the Ilion Food Truck Frenzy, but village officials are waiting for directives from the state before deciding when and how the weekly events can take place with restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, Herkimer’s Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) has been making plans for a weekly rally in Myers Park, but several village board members are questioning the location.
Questions surrounding a proposed location for the Herkimer food truck rally drew heated discussion during a village board videoconference Monday.
Herkimer Mayor Mark Netti said the CAC is planning a takeout-only food truck rally at Myers Park pending the go-ahead from Gov. Andrew Cuomo for this type of event. There would be no musical entertainment.
Netti said Monday he needed to know if the village board would support going ahead with the plan.
While Netti said the CAC specifically asked to have it in Myers Park, some trustees questioned the venue.
“I don’t have a problem with the food trucks, but I have a big problem with the location,” said Trustee Maria Fiorentino.
Fiorentino suggested the space on West Albany Street across from the former Herb Phillipson’s store or Harmon Field might be better suited for the rallies. She said the park is in a residential neighborhood.
Netti said CAC members contacted people around the park and only one had any objections. He said those who supported the plan signed letters to that effect.
Netti said many events have been held in the park, including car shows. Having it in the center of the village would allow people to walk to the events, he said.
Trustee Mark Ainsworth pointed out that previous events didn’t occur every week, however. He said he has yet to see the food truck event plan and wanted to know about insurance coverage.
“I want to know how they’re going to be spaced out and is the chief on board?” he said. “They’re not going to start until July 1.”
The mayor said he would check with the committee about submitting a plan. He noted that it has been difficult for members to conduct meetings when they can’t get together in person.
Ilion’s food truck rally started last year, but this year’s starting date has not been firmed up.
If it starts, the event is sure to look different this time around.
Ilion Mayor Brian Lamica said he saw pictures of a food truck event in Utica with cars backed up around half a city block.
“We don’t have an area like that where cars can line up,” he said. “We’ve got to follow the guidelines that are set forth. Unfortunately, mass gatherings aren’t until phase four (of the reopening plan). As we move closer to July, hopefully we’ll have more answers with the food trucks.”
Last year, food trucks were set up around Firemen’s Field on Pleasant Avenue each Wednesday evening. Picnic tables were available and area musicians provided entertainment.
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