Monday, April 24, 2006

I have to say something...


A two-day music festival that could bring up to 54,000 people to downtown Columbia over the Memorial Day weekend has some residents concerned that the event could lead to civic disturbances and unbearable traffic.

"I think there will be a lot of drinking, and I'm concerned about safety that night," said Stephen Meskin, a Town Center resident who is running for a seat on the village board. "Kids drinking is just not healthy, and I'm concerned about traffic."

...Meskin, 65, who has lived in Town Center 26 years, said he worries the event could become similar to the Grateful Dead's appearances at Merriweather in the 1980s and 1990s.

During those concerts, the rock group's fans, known as "Deadheads" descended on downtown Columbia, slept around Lake Kittamaqundi and sold marijuana, Meskin said.

(Biting my tongue)

Comparing the HFStival to the Grateful Dead is a natural reaction for people who don't know any better -- of whom there are apparently many. Such comparisions, however inappropriate, are inevitable whenever Merriweather and young people come up -- it's a variant on Godwin's Law, I think.

As Jean Parker, manager of Merriweather, said, the HFStival is NOT the second coming of the Dead. The Dead brought dirty hippies. HFS will bring a bunch of suburban teenagers. Trust me, the two could not be more different.

Of course, Teens Gone Wild is not the only concern. Others wanted to have more input into the planning of the concert, a teniously legitimate claim.

"I am concerned," said Burt Knauft, a member of the Town Center Village Board. "I am not sure what can be done about it at this point because all of the commitments have been made."

Cynthia Coyle, a member of the Harper's Choice Village Board, testified at the April 13 meeting of CA's board of directors that she believes residents should have been better informed of the event.

"I'm wondering if there has been enough planning for traffic, security, etc. around town given what I'm told is a very raucous but entertaining event," said Coyle, who is running for the CA board seat from Harper's Choice.

David Willemain, Coyle's opponent in the CA board race, said in an interview that CA should have informed the public earlier of its deal with Merriweather.

"I think that the role of CA is to act as an advocate for everyone in Columbia and that encompasses more than just maintaining the amenities," Willemain said.

If only these same people cared as much when CA coordinated planning for the Capital Jazz Festival and Wine in the Woods, then I'd give their arguments more creedance. Instead, this seems more like outrage that young adults might actually, you know, have something fun to do in Columbia.

Lord knows we can't have any of that.


Evan said...


What do you think of my suggestions in this post from a while back:

Hayduke said...

I thought you had some great ideas, even used the one about having local bands perform around Town Center in my testimony at the CA Board meeting. Admittedly, I'm especially partial to that one for somewhat selfish reasons...

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