I’m a resident who appreciates Longmont’s small town, quiet atmosphere. I don’t relish my town becoming the site of an annual, multi-day, large scale rock concert, with all the noise, congestion, environmental degradation, traffic jams and inconvenience that it would entail.
I don’t think this event should be a “done deal”, in spite of the gushing enthusiasm expressed for it on the part of one of the local newspapers, some local business groups, and many of the conservative members of the City Council. I’m worried that the City hasn’t even asked the threshold question about such an event: do Longmont citizens really want our town – and sensitive public lands – being taken over by 50,000 people for a huge, loud, multi-day event? This isn’t being touted as a one time event. The promoters openly say they are looking for a permanent home, to have the event come back year after year, hopefully gaining in size each year. On their website, the Heaven Fest promoters say that the event has basically doubled in attendance each year. So what does that mean: next year’s attendance will be 100,000 concert goers? Our town is only approximately 88,000 people-strong. We’ll be swamped by such huge numbers of people. I say the initial 50,000 applied for is too much. I’d prefer to stop it before it starts, before it becomes entrenched. Personally, I wouldn’t be happy to see other huge events come here either – such as the Kinetics Conveyance Race which apparently is no longer welcome in Boulder. In my opinion such huge events belong in stadiums, not small town scenic reservoirs.
The Heaven Fest promoters have been talking to City staff for several months about using the Union Reservoir as their concert venue, even though the Reservoir is a sensitive wildlife area. It doesn’t appear that City staff as of yet have raised a peep of an objection to the Reservoir usage. The Reservoir is a wetlands area that provides foraging, nesting, migration or general habitat usage for bald eagles, great blue herons, ducks, geese, pelicans, pheasants, white-tailed deer, raptors, songbirds, shorebirds, coyote, fox, raccoons, etc. In spite of this sensitive ecosystem, the Heaven Fest promoters want to use this or adjoining open space land for campers, RVs, massive parking, 7 stages, multiple events, and numerous vendors. And they want this ecosystem to be subjected to a deluge of 50,000 people in a two day period, with build-up and tear-down for the event expected to last an additional ten days. Our Reservoir was never intended to be subjected to such an onslaught.
It doesn’t appear that the City is taking its own permit ordinances into account, in its haste to get its hands on hoped for – but unsubstantiated – claims of revenues. The Longmont Municipal Code sets very high standards before a public use permit involving the public lands can be issued. Chapter 13.37 says that the City Clerk shall not issue a special use permit if any of a variety of problematic conditions would be found to occur. These supposedly deal-breaking conditions include a finding that the event would unreasonably obstruct public access; or would generate unreasonable noise; or would bring a crowd so large as to threaten the public peace; or would be likely to result in excessive damage to the property in light of that property’s prior usage or current condition; or would conflict with the scheduled use of the property.
In my opinion, a fair analysis of Heaven Fest’s request for a two day loud noise permit, to accommodate 50,000 concert goers, parking for 15,000 vehicles, the use of 7 stages, several nights of mass overnight camping, plus an extended ten day preparation/dismantling process, would show that all of the above conditions would be violated at the Reservoir. If reasonably obeyed, our City Code would not tolerate the issuance of a permit for this event.
I support the spirit and intent of the City Code, and say: “Keep Union Reservoir Wild.” Just say no to huge events like the proposed Heaven Fest concert.