Tag Archive for heavenfest

HeavenFest: A Reality Check

Union Reservoir - March 2010 - Photo by Doug Wray

Imagine for a moment that an organization approached your city and requested use of one of its facilities to hold a rally involving up to 50,000 individuals. Imagine that the proceeds from this rally could reach over $2 million but the sponsors offered nothing but payment of a $50 permit and a promise to tidy things up after the event.

Imagine a city council which accepted this offer and instead of negotiating a piece of the gate worth (modestly) at least $100,000, buried the decision for permit approval in the bowels of its bureaucracy where various unelected officials made the decision for them. Public input fell on deaf ears and was not encouraged. Virtually no debate was held by council.

Welcome to Longmont and the HeavenFest concert where rumors of untold riches are rife, all to be generated by throngs of visitors spending wildly in restaurants, hotels and the hundreds of tee shirt and souvenir shops dotting downtown (OK – that does require some imagination).

Reality check: With 918 hotel rooms- most of which are routinely filled on weekends and every restaurant packed with locals, we are to believe that these hordes of visitors will somehow manage in one or two nights to contribute as much as $900,000 in new tax revenue.

But neither Thornton nor Brighton, the homes of HeavenFest ‘09, found any significant increase in revenues related to the event. Why? In part because the attendees stayed in their campsites, or came for one day then went home. Most importantly, with venues already filled to capacity with locals, there was nowhere to spend new money. Longmont’s council and its boys in the back knew this- or should have. It’s called due diligence and objective analysis; both were AWOL when this deal was struck.

Enough- let’s get off the road to Oz and examine the facts:

Fact: HeavenFest is an arm of non-profit Worship and the World Movement (WWM). The announced purpose of this organization is (in part) to; “Proclaim God’s Word through worship and teaching at over 70 events” and; “Support an orphanage in Venezuela”. (source: 2008 IRS Form 990 tax return).

Fact: The gross income of WWM in 2008 was in excess of $300,000. That year it donated about 4.3% of declared income, or $12,923. to Miami-based “Home of Refuge” which runs the Venezuelan orphanage. Based on figures published on their web site, it can be assumed that WWN’s 2009 revenue was well in excess of $750,000. Orphanages received $35,000 or perhaps 5% of income.

Fact: WWM is not a charity and does not claim to be one. Its mission is to grow exponentially in order to reach ever growing multitudes. Let’s be clear on this; how they make and spend their money is their business and no one else’s. I have no bone to pick with WWM and no interest whatsoever in their business model.

Fact: Had a similar request for such a rally been made by any other musical group it would have been rejected out of hand- or subjected to rigorous negotiations for a share of the gate. Even then, council would likely have met a storm of protest and one can be sure there’d have been ample public debate. How then did HeavenFest slide in and walk away with a permit?

Damned if I know, but what is clear is that Longmont is in effect making a six-figure donation to a religious organization. Were this money going to a recognized charity it might be forgivable, but again-WWN is not a charity and consequently should not have received any special consideration. But it did.

Think what $100,000. (or perhaps double that amount) could do for Longmont’s homeless, its food banks, shelters and support groups. None of these will receive a red dime from this event because Longmont’s council ducked its responsibilities. Council has shown an appalling lack of objective leadership and essentially tossed away the opportunity to share in what could be a $2 million plus gate.

HeavenFest may yet prove to be a boon to Longmont and may leave Union Reservoir in better shape than it is today. Then again it may prove to be a monumental irritation to its citizens and an environmental disaster. Regardless the outcome, what happened on the road to a $50 permit should never be allowed to again occur.

Related article: HeavenFest, A Briefing

Comments to Council 1-5-10

We’ve hearing in the newspaper about the proposed Heaven Fest Christian music concert which – if a City permit will be granted – will be held at the City’s Union Reservoir this July.  Unfortunately, we’ve only been given the rose-colored, glowing “good” side of the story.   As a citizen of Longmont, I am concerned about the potential negative consequences of permitting this event to go forward – or others like it – without a fair and adequate analysis being done of the actual costs and benefits to the City.

Think of it -Heaven Fest is promoting on its website that it will have room this year for more than 50,000 concert goers.  A concert of this magnitude – 50,000 concert goers – would attract to our small city for a multi-day event, a clientele whose population would almost double the population of our City.  This is no small matter – it is huge.  I am very concerned that our City is rushing into this permitting process, without having given enough thought to the potential negative consequences.

For instance, has anybody in the City contacted the City of Boulder and found out why the Kinetics Races, which had been held in Boulder and had attracted huge crowds similar to those expected by Heaven Fest – was no longer happening in Boulder?   Has anybody found out what the actual costs of the Kinetics Races were to the City of Boulder, such as the police, cleanup, or power-related expenses, as well as finding out what the quality-of-life and environmental impacts had been?  Similarly, has anybody from the City of Longmont gotten an opinion from the Division of Wildlife or other bona fide wildlife expert, concerning what the possible negative effects on wildlife and plant life might be, of placing such a huge amount of people into the environmentally-sensitive Reservoir?

These are serious questions – and I don’t think they have been adequately analyzed yet.  Even larger questions than these, I believe are not being addressed.   These are: do the citizens of our small town really want to be deluged by crowds as large as those expected at Heaven Fest, and do they really want our recreation areas to be turned over to huge commercial ventures?  I, personally, have serious reservations about these kind of ventures being held on our public lands, and I imagine others do to.  Yet such concerns are not even being mentioned, much less being addressed.

So I urge Council and the City to slow down the freight train here, and give much more adequate consideration to whether the huge Heaven Fest event is an appropriate event for our City.  I am not convinced that it is.