Food truck issue is still on front burner

Fredonia village Trustee Douglas Essek was critical of the committee that came up with the food truck law.

Fredonia officials want to make changes to a recently enacted food truck law, amid fears the measure is discouraging traveling cooks from coming to town.

The resolution mandates a one-time license fee of $500 per year, with the same price paid no matter how many times the truck actually shows up. Mayor Athanasia Landis and most other village officials think an option should be added for one-time-only licenses on a per-event basis. Landis suggested making it $50 per event.

But as currently written, members of Festivals Fredonia, incuding Farm Festival Chairman Mark Mackey, think the law is a hindrance.

“I had three of my food vendors call today. They all understand the new law… but since they are increasing what they pay for permit fees, they are increasing their food prices,” Mackey told a Fredonia Board of Trustees workshop session Monday.

“We want the people to come, at the same time I’m thinking of the brick-and-mortar (restaurants),” Landis said.” We have to be fair to them as well.”

Trustee Michael Barris said he was opposed to changes in the law. “We’ve had a thorough discussion of this in the past,” he said.

However, Barris’ stance garnered no support.

Trustee Douglas Essek criticized the committee that came up with the food truck law. “The results of this committee’s recommendations were skewed because it did not have the people (the law) affected,” he said. Essek said he originally supported the single option for a $500 fee but changed his mind because of that issue.

“We can go back and fix it, Mr. Essek,” Landis said. “Nobody’s perfect.”

“Absolutely,” replied Essek.

Another issue that concerns Fredonia officials is a requirement on background checks for food truck employees. Festivals Fredonia criticized the requirement in a letter recently sent by its board to Fredonia’s trustees.

“We’re not trying to discriminate against anyone except child molesters,” Landis said. But Essek worried that the food truckers could claim discrimination because they are checked but no other vendors face such checks.

Police Chief Brad Meyers said the law should be considered a work in progress that could take years to get right.

“We’re not gonna leave here tonight and have a knocked-out-of-the-park, 100% solution,” he said.

Landis and the trustees — with Barris notably continuing to express his opposition — came to a consensus they would compose a resolution for the upcoming Monday board meeting, to allow them to vote on changes.