Eclipse weekend is here. And with thousands of visitors flocking to the area, the city of Beatrice has two primary concerns.
Traffic and trash.
City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer hopes Beatrice is ready for both, with several precautions in place.
"We’ll have roll-off dumpsters in the parks where people are going to camp,” he said. “We think we can handle the trash issue that way. As far as traffic, the police department will be out there helping traffic flow. After the eclipse, we’re talking about overriding traffic signals downtown to get people out more efficiently.”
The city decided to allow camping, without reservations, in all city parks. Guests who inquire about camping are being recommended Chautauqua and Riverside parks for their shade, in addition to the Scott Street ball fields for those seeking a rock parking lot.
"You want an open area for the eclipse, but rest of day you want to be in the shade,” he said. “To walk 20 feet over and watch eclipse is better for you.”
As a precaution, the electric department will have workers stationed in different parts of town, able to respond quickly if power goes out.
Tempelmeyer said the city is not concerned about a decrease or loss of water pressure. The system is capable of pumping twice the city’s typical daily use.
The city has also been fielding requests from vendors wishing to sell goods and food.
Typically, vendors wishing to sell goods on city property must gain approval from the Beatrice City Council. However, with the increased demand for this weekend thanks to the eclipse, the council put Tempelmeyer in charge of issuing permits.
Permits to sell goods on city property are free, though vendors must meet all health code and sales tax requirements.
Additionally, Tempelmeyer said these permits can be revoked at any time if there’s a problem with a vendor.
“They wrote in there that the privilege can be revoked at any time for any reason without notice,” he said. “If we’re having a problem with a vendor, the police department can say ‘You’re done, we’ve had complaints about you,’ or, for whatever reason, we don’t want you in this particular location.”
Tempelmeyer said around 12 permits have been granted to sell on city property, excluding the downtown district. Main Street Beatrice is tasked with handling permit requests for the downtown area.
Main Street Beatrice Director Michael Sothan said there have only been a few requests from outside vendors to operate downtown, however local businesses have made numerous requests.
“Several of our own downtown businesses are wanting to do business on the sidewalk and different things,” he said. “Around 27 contacted us about doing something with the public space.”
Sothan said he’s pleased to see local businesses ready to take advantage of the crowds, while there will still be some outside vendors operating in Beatrice.
“We want to see local businesses take advantage of this,” he said. “Of course with all the crowds, a few food trucks coming in would be good. Our businesses can’t be in multiple places at the same time. We do hope that people want to try the local flavor and hit local restaurants and unique food and drink options.”