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Bangor no longer responsible for grounds maintenance at Waterfront Concerts venue

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Workers on Friday, May 5, 2013, shingled roofs in the rain and erected tents as completion of the beer huts and dressing rooms at the Waterfront Concert venue wrapped up.
By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — City officials have handed over to Waterfront Concerts responsibility and costs associated with ground maintenance of the music venue along the Penobscot River, which is an amendment to the five-year agreement between the two parties.

Bangor city councilors approved several amendments to the deal during a meeting Monday night.

Under previous terms of the agreement, the city took in $1.25 from the sale of each concert ticket, but 25 cents went toward a fund used to cover ground and turf maintenance costs.

With this change, the city will no longer need to spend that quarter on maintenance. Instead, the full $1.25 will go to the city. Waterfront Concerts pays extra for police and fire personnel coverage during events on top of its rent.

Rather than using city crews, Waterfront Concerts will hire a local contractor to perform grounds maintenance, according to concert promoter Alex Gray.

After the recent Dave Matthews Band performance, for example, the city received a check for $27,649.25, according to Bangor City Council Chairman Ben Sprague. More than 300,000 people attended concerts between 2010 and 2013.

The city owns the waterfront land but leases the area that holds the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion to Waterfront Concerts.

City officials and Gray have been involved in a lengthy negotiation process to craft an agreement that would extend the concerts into 2021. Those talks have largely stalled while the city works to resolve noise concerns aired by residents.

The current contract extends through the end of the 2016 concert season.

In the revised version, Waterfront Concerts also has agreed to pay $15,000 in escrow to offset costs of a sound study aimed at gathering data that would be used to identify potential noise mitigation solutions. Those could range from a roof over part of the venue to new fencing to adjustments to the sound system. The city has said the sound study will cost about $25,000, with the city’s portion covered by the downtown tax increment financing.

The revisions also permit Waterfront Concerts to use the two parking lots between the concert grounds and the railroad tracks. The city has allowed organizers to use those lots for vendors, production trailers and to serve as the venue entrance. Gray agreed to move trailers from the parking lots as needed to make way for other events like the American Folk Festival or KahBang Music and Arts Festival.

Gray has said he would like to see upgrades to the venue, which could include anything from a new roof to permanent toilets to replace the portable toilets as negotiations continue toward a long-term agreement to keep the concerts in the city.

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