Hardy Plumbing
January 12, 2011

Critics Confront Concert Promoters



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Teenagers rampaging through the streets of downtown Amagansett. Revelers sleeping on the beach. Traffic congested on already clogged arteries, and charities stiffed.

Last Thursday and Friday opponents of a proposed music festival in Amagansett raised the specter of disruption of their hamlet on the order of "a Woodstock acid flashback" to members of the East Hampton Town Board and event promoters Chris Jones and Bill Collage during the town board's regular meeting and a special forum the following day.

On Thursday night, Councilwoman Julia Prince announced the forum, noting an abundance of misinformation has been circulating about the proposed festival.

Misinformation about how the town goes about approving mass gatherings, too, she informed Friday. Discussing the mass gathering process, Prince attempted to quell complaints that the board approved the ambitious August event without adequate public discussion. The board approves such permits for large events in her hamlet, Montauk, "all the time." The law does not require public hearings, nor is it a board policy to vet proposals through citizens advisory committees. Almost every department in town government does review gathering permits, Prince informed. The festival proposal was reviewed by the town police and fire marshal and parks department, among others.

Audience members numbered near 30 on Friday, with questions running the gamut from how many cars can the event site (the Principi property on Montauk Highway) accommodate to what acts will perform to how charities can be assured they get their donations.

Originally the event was planned for three days beginning on the evening of Friday, August 13 and running through Sunday. Collage reported organizers decided to "take Friday off the table," resulting in a two day affair. No more than 9500 tickets will be sold and the pair expects "a very polite crowd" of friends and neighbors and visitors already staying in the Hamptons to attend a show designed to be "extremely upscale." Musical acts will be selected to entertain a certain demographic, with the hope of appealing to "a lot of age ranges," Collage explained, attempting to dispel the notion of hordes of unruly teens descending on the hamlet.

The pair acknowledged the event will add to already congested traffic. They plan to offer discounts to attendees who bike to the event and will adhere to a high occupancy vehicle policy for those wishing to park on site. The use of shuttles and the Long Island Railroad is also under consideration.

Sue Avedon asked why the promoters picked "the worst venue at the worst possible time." Jones said consideration was originally given to venues in Montauk, on Navy Road to be specific, but a consultant hired to analyze the site gave it a red light due to access issues. The August date was selected as a time when the most people would be able to attend, and work there. Next year, the pair said, if they choose to do the festival again, other sites will be investigated.

Much was made, by several skeptics, of the promoter's lack of experience in putting together such events. They countered that they've retained the services of experts who routinely organize large-scale events.

Opponents also looked askance at a promise of $100,000 to be divvied up among local charities. Jones and Collage assured the group their pledge is sincere. The money will be disbursed "before we write a check to ourselves," Collage said. The two have yet to select specific charities, which appeared to fuel suspicion among forum attendees.

Lyle Greenfield of Amagansett summarized the sentiment of opponents: The core idea, he said is "a hugely invasive commercial venture being staged in the heart of our community at the height of the summer."

The town board already approved the mass gathering permit, but the promoters plan to offer updates to the town board as aspects of the event crystallize.

  1. print email
    Concert
    January 12, 2011 | 01:04 PM

    Why would the town board approve a concert of such size without informing the Amagansett community. It has been in discussion since August and yet never been discussed at a work session. The town board appaently does not understand the summer season in East Hampton and do not understand the community of Amagansett.

    Carol
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