BANGOR, Maine — City councilors are still trying to find the best way to balance the demands of the popular Waterfront Concert series and all of its economic and cultural benefits with a handful of pesky concerns that won’t go away.
Councilors met in executive session Wednesday night to outline objectives for a possible 2012 series and also to give staff direction in negotiating with the concert series promoters.
Both sides have indicated a strong desire to keep the concerts on Bangor’s waterfront in 2012 and beyond, but councilors are feeling increased pressure to heed concerns among residents.
Among the major concerns discussed by councilors were excessive noise and access to the waterfront.
“This is a love affair, and we really want to work it out so that it’s good for everyone,” Councilor Gerry Palmer said Thursday. “From what we’ve seen, [the promoters] have been really agreeable; they want to be good neighbors.
“I have no doubt that everything will turn out positive; it’s just a matter of some tweaking.”
No formal decisions were made after Wednesday’s executive session, but City Manager Catherine Conlow said councilors directed Parks and Recreation Director Tracy Willette to continue working with Waterfront Concerts and its head promoter, Alex Gray, on a mutually beneficial agreement.
Gray did not attend Wednesday’s meeting but said he plans to meet with staff next week to address some points of concern.
Noise complaints from residents in Bangor’s west side started during last year’s concert series, the first year of the Waterfront Concerts but have come more frequently so far this year.
As for access, the waterfront is a public park and is open to anyone when concerts are not in session. However, because there is a massive stage and fencing along most of the grassy park, it hasn’t been inviting.
“We want to accommodate the needs of people who don’t go to shows but want access to the waterfront,” Palmer said.
For use of its waterfront, the city receives $1 for every ticket sold and an additional 25 cents per ticket specifically for turf maintenance. Last year, the city generated an estimated $50,000 in revenue over seven concerts.
The city already has signed a contract with Waterfront Concerts for the current series, which began late last month and will continue through the summer and fall. Already, nearly a dozen acts have been booked with more expected.
Based on the 2011 contract, some of the concerns may not be able to be addressed before next year. Conlow said it’s important to stress that any concerns that have come up have nothing to do with the concert promoters, who have been willing to work to address concerns.
There is no set timeline for formalizing an agreement for a 2012 concert series. One thing that was not discussed this week but that has come up in other conversations is the possibility of moving the giant stage to another part of the waterfront that could serve as a permanent home.
Gray said he hopes to keep the series in Bangor long term, but he doesn’t want to negotiate contracts year by year.