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July 11, 2013

Officials 'ready' for Furthur concert

Cooperstown Crier

---- — Despite local concerns about Sunday’s Furthur concert, village officials said they are prepared for the event.

“I believe we are ready,” said Cooperstown Mayor Jeff Katz. “It would be nice if we could have a day without rain for the concert though.”

Both Katz and Cooperstown police chief Mike Covert said that there will be stepped up police patrols before and after the concert. However, they both said that the idea that there will be weekend camp outs by fans of the Grateful Dead legacy band was a misconception.

“I think that was taken out of context a little bit,” Covert said. “We’re not going to let people camp outside or sleep in tents or anything. What we meant was that if people wanted to sleep in their cars overnight (at the Blue Lot) after the concert, then that would be okay.”

The village got a letter from lawyers representing Cooperstown Central School, Green and Green Attorneys at Law, that expressed concern for school property. The village Blue Lot, which is the designated overnight parking lot for concert traffic is adjacent to the middle/high school’s junior parking lot and softball and soccer fields.

“The school is concerned about liability, clean-up of discarded debris, the security of the school, both buildings, field and improvement to its fields,” the letter, which was dated June 12, read in part. It asked that the village add the school district to its insurance, inform school officials about security plans and agree to take responsibility for clean-up and possible damages.

Although no action has been taken in terms of insurance, Katz said that he has assured the school officials that the village is going to take responsibility for protecting local properties, including CCS.

“What I have said to the school is the same thing we have said to any of the businesses in that area, the natural food store (Cooperstown Natural Foods), the church (Church of Christ) or anyone else,” he said. “We’re going to have extra patrols. We’re going to enforce the laws. We’re going to do everything we can to protect their property.”

The village also received a letter from Lucia Colone, an Elm Street resident whose property borders Doubleday Field. 

“I have concerns regarding safety and possible property damage from these events,” the letter, dated June 8, read in part. “In the past, there have been issues with traffic, blocked driveways and buses left running that spew diesel fuel into homes, and people milling about on the street near the back entrance.”

“I take great pride in my home and work hard to preserve it,” Colone’s letter concludes. “I expect that those elected officials for this village make the residents a top priority in the decisions made that impact them.”

Katz said that he has not heard any ticket sales figures from Magic City Promotions, the company that is promoting the concert, but that he expects slightly less than the 8,000 people he originally projected.

He also said that, contrary to some speculations, the village is “not in the concert business.”

“We’re strictly renting out Doubleday Field,” he said. 

As part of the agreement, the village will  receive $2 of each ticket sold by the promoter and also had 3,000 tickets to sell through the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce. Katz said the chamber had sold about 500 tickets.

On July 3, in a special meeting, the village board of trustees voted unanimously to amend the contract with Magic City to allow the promoter to donate a percentage of the revenue from food and beverage sales to the village. The original contract had called for the village to receive 10 percent of the revenue from food and non-alcoholic beverage sales and 5 percent of the revenue from alcoholic beverage sales. Katz said the change was “primarily a book keeping thing.”

The trustees voted in May to designate the weekend a special event weekend, thereby allowing lawn parking and outside vending. Furthur fans have been encouraged to use the village’s Chestnut Street parking lot for vending. A market known as “Shakedown Street” — taken from the name of a Grateful Dead song and album — has often accompanied the band’s concerts.

Katz has repeatedly said that he did not think that these vendors would be applying for sale permits, but that he wanted to find a way to contain them into one area. However, he said that the village is also going to allow Cooperstown merchants to sell items outside of their stores without requiring permits for the weekend.

“From a legal standpoint, it doesn’t seem like it would be fair to make them get permits when we are allowing the people on Shakedown Street to operate without a permit,” he said.

Furthur features two original members of the Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. The new band has been together since 2009 although both Weir and Lesh often play concerts as solo arts or with other bands. Furthur will be playing a concert in Philadelphia the night before the Doubleday Field concert.

The last concert at Doubleday Field was the country music band Graceland in 2010.