The Harbor for the Arts Summer Concert Series in the Park may be coming to an end. While many saw the series a success, it also created a level of tension between town staff and the Citizens for Central Park(CCP), who help sponsor the concerts.
Despite the Summer of Love, there were several problems this summer. Part of the problem, and it’s an old problem, is that the CCP tends to assume more authority over the park than they actually possess. Most are appreciative of the work, especially the plaques and trees dedicated to Melvin Dudley, however, it is still a public place, and the final authority rests with the town.
On July 6 when the Heritage Festival agreed to shorten their event to allow for the early set up of the English Channel cover band scheduled that night. The CCP concert people wanted them gone from the Park a full hour earlier than the Festival people had reserved. Town staff told the Mirror, “The Park is public for a reason, it’s meant to be shared. The British Invasion cover band left the gazebo a mess with discarded food and water bottles, and worse left a Windsor guitar and a keyboard behind. In the gazebo. All night long. And no one was aware we emailed CCP the following morning. That band was either so disdainful and/ or impaired that they left their payday at the venue.”
CCP concert people did the same thing to the Gospel Tabernacle Community Day on July 27. The concert parking cones were put out by CCP concert people early that morning and forced the Tabernacle people to park further away. The Tabernacle group are mostly older individuals, so being forced to park so far away was very inconvenient, especially having to set up tables and chairs in 90-degree day heat. The Tabernacle group was having a community day, without alcohol sales.
Alcohol abuse in the park is a problem for the town.
The CCP mission is not to be in the alcohol sales business, yet they seem to be obsessed with selling a lot of tequila. According to their own emails, at the July 6 kick off the CCP alcohol sales amounted to 17 – 18 gallons. This occurred on town property. Town staff told the Mirror, “That much alcohol consumption on town property is a problem and represents a problem. Period. The Park isn’t zoned commercial, nor is it a bar.”
The town told the CCP concert people that their alcohol use on town property had to be reviewed and subject to more scrutiny.
Given this scrutiny, the CCP concert people apparently are going to pick up their ball and go home–however, these tensions with the town have been building for some time.
While taxpayer money is budgeted for the concerts, the CCP feel they are entitled to more to pay for band concerts that raise money to donate back to the Park. But, the town government through the budget already spends money to upkeep and improve Central Park ($40k). Not sure about the gripe–the CCP receive more money than other groups, such as the museum, GEAR and the Rosenwald School initiative. Fundamentally, CCP’s mission is not to promote a “Harbor for the Arts” concert program anyway.
Opinion: By the numbers: Fiscal year 2020 budget approved for July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020. Under the Recreation Department budget line 100-4710-3005 Program and event performers and entertainers – $7,200 in text note – CCP concerts. Under the Town Manager budget line 100-4121-4050 Grant expenditure Eastern Shore Tourism Commission – $5,000 66.7% increase over fiscal year 2019. The town is generous supporting arts, culture, and tourism. The commitment of tax dollars show that. If the CCP concert people have a different opinion it is just that, an opinion. If they do not want to sponsor music in the Park that is their choice. Many other community-minded organizations could benefit from the re-directed $7,200.
The treatment of the Tabernacle folks was obnoxious, but it also kind of highlights what the Town of Cape Charles has become.
Town staff lamented to the Mirror, “Both of those event days show the frankly bad neighbor attitude all too common by all too many this past summer. CCP concerts aren’t funded by taxpayers’-money to be disrespectful toward anyone else enjoying the Park.”