Waukesha Common Council approves $800,000 purchase of barrier system for parades, events

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WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Waukesha Common Council is set to approve the purchase of a barrier system designed to stop vehicles, as the community aims to move forward with bringing back public events after the Christmas Parade tragedy in November 2021.

The city has worked hard in the last six months to find the safest way to hold large gatherings. The result will allow the Memorial Day parade to go on as planned and for many, that will be bittersweet.


In March, the city's Finance Committee approved $800,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the purchase of the MVB3X system from Advanced Security Technologies. MVB stands for modular vehicle barrier. The Common Council was set to take up the item during its meeting on April 7.

"After our parade tragedy we put out that we are not going to stop having events and parades," Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly told CBS 58.

Reilly said city leaders were determined to make sure public events in the future would be safe and secure following last year's tragedy in which Darrell Brooks drove an SUV through the city's Christmas Parade, killing six and injuring dozens more.

"This is one piece of the puzzle of trying to make it so that we provide the safety that people expect and need as well as a perception of safety," said Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly.

Waukesha's mayor said leaders discussed the use of traditional barriers but found they had limitations. It's possible the barriers could be used for events other than parades too.

"They're going to be transported by DPW unless it's a smaller event. So there's going to be a cost associated with that just by the staffing requirements," said Waukesha Police Cpt. Dan Bauman.

"A lot of people will say, 'well, you can just use heavy trucks or the concrete barriers.' That works in some cases it doesn't work in all cases," Reilly said.

The limitations for heavy trucks comes in both resources and cost. Reilly explained the city's larger parades have several entrances that would require more trucks than they could provide. On top of that, each one must be operated by a licensed operator the entire time which drives up costs.

Concrete barriers require heavy machinery to set up or remove and cannot be moved quickly in an emergency.

For those reasons, the city looked into the MVB3X system, which can be set up, moved and disassembled by one person. They can also be arranged in a way to let pedestrians through and allow first responders to get to an emergency.

"They are adjustable to any width or length of road and they can be used on any type of terrain," Yaron Getter, co-founder of Advanced Security Technologies, told CBS 58.

"[The barriers can] withstand a force of up to a truck of 16.5 thousand pounds," Getter explained. "So basically your standard box truck that you can rent it would be able to stop it going up to 30 miles per hour."

Getter said the company has been selling the system for several years but saw an uptick in demand following the Waukesha Christmas Parade tragedy.

Mayor Reilly believes the system can allow Waukesha to safely bring back public events like parades and festivals that help build and strengthen its community. The system is expected to be delivered and deployed in time for the city's Memorial Day Parade which will make its return for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

"It is important to continue to have these events, continue to show the public that we are a community that cares for each other," Mayor Reilly said. "I actually anticipate quite a crowd for our Memorial Day Parade, our veterans deserve that and it'll be nice to be there."

The Common Council unanimously agreed to use $800,000 in American rescue plan funds to purchase the barriers, which have an easy setup and allows pedestrians to walk by.

"I personally think it's a great idea," said John Imp, who was home in an apartment on Main Street watching the parade tragedy happen through his window. "The car came right by my window and I watched somebody get pulled under the wheels right as they went by my place."

Despite the horrific memory, Imp looks forward to crowds returning.

"Not that you're denying that it happened, but you need to show that you're not gonna be scared straight from that," said Imp.

"Life has to go on. I don't think we have to feel hostage by things that extreme people choose to do," said Bill Webster, Main Street Patron. "I would feel safer with those types of things here just like I feel safer when there's a police presence in an area."

COVID kept the Memorial Day parade at bay for two years, so this one is extra special.

"I actually anticipate quite a crowd for our Memorial Day parade and our veterans deserve that," said Mayor Reilly.

The Memorial Day parade is May 30th. Reilly said the exact parade route for Memorial Day is still being discussed.

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