Sunday, February 17, 2008

Vineland Music Fiasco

The Vineland Music Festival, set for August 8-10, 2008 on a 579 acre farm where organizers expect 20,000 - 30,000 people to camp out for three days of Peace & Music.

It sounds familiar, but the promoters are new to this area - Melvin Benn, an Englishman who has helped organize an annual Reading, England festival since 1989, is reportedly teaming up with C3 out of Austin, Texas and Live Nation, the conglamorate that has bought up every major venue in North America, including Electric Factory and House of Blues.

With an option to purchase the property if the initial festival is a success, the promoters are looking towards making the Vineland Music Fest an annual affair, and fill the promise that the Atlantic City Pop Fest exhibited in 1969.

Benn's London based Festival Republic, has previously featured Radiohead, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the White Stripes and Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

While there's a division among the locals around Vineland, some looking forward to the new music venue, influx of hundreds of thousands of tourist dollars that can jump start a local economy and the good vibes, others are already complaining - "Do you want 80,000 people partying in our neighborhood?", one protesting leaflet asks.

Rowdiness, intoxicaiton, loittering, traffic, property damage, and without mentioning drugs and fornication, are all anticipated with increasing anxiety by the restless natives.

More to come on this one.

Most recent Link: NARCS - Neighbors Against Rock Concert -

Story below -

Here's some links:

And a report from the CP's Phaedra Trethan:

New group may sue to stop Vineland rock festival
Developer Pete Steenland suggests Cumberland County Fairgrounds as alternate site
By JULIET FLETCHER Staff Writer, 856-237-9020
(Published: January 3, 2008)

VINELAND - A group of city residents, led by prominent city developer Pete Steenland, met Wednesday at a downtown conference-room to air their objections to the rock festival planned for August in East Vineland.

Steenland said he was prepared to take legal action in what he described as his battle to relocate the weekend-long event, which was announced in November.

"It's an uninvited guest," he said.

Keen to make clear that it was the location of the festival that was at issue, Nick Possumato, 74, said that from his house on Quail Street, he thought he would be able to hear the bands play. "It's not my kind of music," he said, referring to the much-hyped but unconfirmed lineup of mainstream and indie-rock acts, "but the thing is I wouldn't want to listen to Beethoven till 3 in the morning."

With him sat former City Council president Ruben Bermudez, Steenland's daughter Joy Marion, whose house backs onto the planned site at Sherman Avenue and Hance Bridge Road, former council candidate Adam Goldstein and his campaign manager Dennis Hill, and two local residents from across the age spectrum: Dan Theokus, aged 85, and Jon-Mark Grussenmeyer, aged 20.

"With a city struggling so much with drugs and alcohol, the last thing we need it is an event like this," Grussenmeyer said. "At those concerts, I know what goes on."

Theokas, meanwhile, said that the way he felt the decision had been made had left him thinking, "Does anyone care about us?"

Mayor Perry Barse, who first announced the planned concert with its promoters Melvin Benn and C3 Presents, and followed up with a town-hall meeting on the event Dec. 6, said by phone Wednesday that Steenland's threat of a lawsuit did not surprise him.

"We anticipate legal action," he said. "Mr. Steenland has said he will do everything he can to stop the festival, and so we assumed that meant legal action."

Among the group, which has christened itself NARCS - Neighbors Against the Rock Concert Site - one concern was whether a contract had already been signed between the promoters and the owners of the proposed site, Elwyn New Jersey.

Steenland said that following conversations with representatives from Elwyn, he believed it had not.

And he cast doubt on the claims made by the city administration and promoters regarding the size and scope of the event, because of what he called inconsistencies in the way the project has been described.

"The fact is, we were informed of an event that will have an impact for years to come, and that occurred without any input from the people of Vineland," he said.

In a one-page group manifesto, members itemized their fears. Possumato expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the concert on the site, and Hill added that he wondered how the 570-acre space could be left as a recreational space for the rest of the year without additional security. Marion, meanwhile, said that she was not convinced by the prospects of economic advantages for the city. And Steenland said that values of neighboring properties would fall. "There's no way anybody would even look at a house if there was going to be an event like this nearby," he said.

Bermudez, who lives half a mile from the site, spoke up for local farmers, who might have to deal with greater traffic woes at a crucial time of year. "It gets busy down there," he said, "as they bring their tractors out."

And Hill recalled that an earlier planned 1,100-unit senior-housing development in the area had been nixed because of fears about dangers an increase in traffic might pose to students attending Rossi Intermediate School. Referring to the summer's possible festival attendance of up to 50,000 campers, he said, "I don't think you can talk out of both sides of your mouth like that."

Steenland said he was hopeful that another concert site, such as the Cumberland County Fairgrounds, could be found, and that he hoped to mobilize other members of the public to attend the group's next meeting 7:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Panther Road Hall in East Vineland.

"We're not against a festival," he said. "We just don't want it on this site."

No comments: