Where most hear soft music, some see human rights abuse – BG Independent News

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By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

Plans for the next Porchfest in Bowling Green have struck a sour note with some neighbors.

The annual neighborhood music event on Eberly Avenue features more bands and potentially attracts more spectators for a four-hour period on the afternoon of June 4. This led a neighbor to call the event the “Porch Cluster Fest” at the Bowling Green City Council. Monday evening meeting.

David Wilson expressed his anger about the musical event and his disbelief that city officials are not shutting it down. He read a statement of his personal rights and warned “we must and will defend and protect our property, privacy and safety by any means necessary with or without assistance from the city.”

Wilson said Porchfest and its “unnecessary neighborhood-threatening distraction” caused him many hours and days of undue stress and a loss of productive work time.

The event has no approved restrooms or parking areas and is expected to be held in a public location with accommodations, Wilson said.

Eberly Avenue resident David Wilson shares his concerns about Porchfest.

Wilson told city council Monday night that Porchfest organizers had not contacted all residents of Eberly Avenue to raise their concerns.

But Bob Midden, who is part of the Porchfest planning committee, said Tuesday morning that organizers had repeatedly contacted everyone in Eberly.

“We invited everyone in the neighborhood to meetings,” Midden said. And printed messages asking for comment were hand-delivered to everyone on the street.

When organizers asked anyone with concerns to meet with them, only Wilson showed up, Midden said. Wilson said people walked on his lawn last year and a few sat on his porch. There was no damage, but organizers apologized for the trespass and offered to make efforts to prevent it this year, Midden said.

Last year’s Porchfest was relatively low-key. Around 120-150 people showed up throughout the free four-hour event.

Board member Jeff Dennis said he attended Porchfest last year.

“It looked like a pretty small group of people bringing their own lawn chairs,” he said.

But Wilson worries that this year’s event — with more bands and with more publicity — is spiraling out of control.

Midden said organizers discussed using a public space for Porchfest, but decided it would change the mood of the event in the neighborhood.

Spectators sit on lawn chairs to listen to the band Porchfest last year.

“At the heart of this concept is holding on to people’s porches, where people can be closer to the musicians and be part of them,” he said. “These are people who get to know each other in an informal setting. It’s the neighborhood party. »

But Wilson doesn’t want his neighborhood to be celebrated. He wants it to be calm and controlled.

Midden pointed out that this is a four-hour event in the afternoon, once a year. And it’s something that’s being done in at least 150 different cities across the country.

“The only issue we were made aware of was people walking on the lawns,” Midden said. The organizers have therefore planned to station volunteers and put tape to mark the places where spectators should not be.

“We are determined to do our best to protect people’s property,” Midden said. “We are determined to protect everyone’s lawn.”

Bands — most of which are acoustic — keep the volume down during the event, he added.

City Administrator Lori Tretter explained the city’s stance on Porchfest, which she says is about fostering neighborhood unity and cohesion.

The event falls into a gray area for the city, since organizers are not asking for permits to block the street, and they are not asking to use public property, she said.

Tretter said Porchfest organizers have been asked to meet with city, police and fire officials about their plans.

“Porchfest organizers were responsive” and assured that they would release lawns not part of the event, she said.

The organizers were asked to consider using a public site like the Wooster Green, but declined.

“I think Porchfest organizers are trying to do a good thing for the community,” although some may be negatively impacted, Tretter said. She added that no complaints had been filed with the city about last year’s event.

Council member Greg Robinette sees the issue differently. Porchfest is clearly a “public event,” he said, and the city’s primary concern should be the “health and safety of the public.”

“Of course we have public safety concerns,” Tretter replied. But the city can’t force a neighborhood event to use a public space, she said.

Robinette said the Porchfest event “exposed a gap in our code.”

“When does a concert on private property cease to be a private event? he said. “We have an obligation to protect the public.”

Wilson agreed and said city officials would regret letting the event go ahead as planned.

“The city is currently at a crossroads to do the logical and responsible thing to avoid consequences, fallout, liability and blame for this train accident,” he told the council. “Save neighborhood residents and police division personnel having to clean up your mess. Also avoid tax paying citizens asking the county auditor to devalue our properties and reduce our property taxes.

“Like all of DC’s failed plans and agendas, this proposed commercialized event in this residential neighborhood is poised to violate neighborhood safety and demonstrate a lack of respect and logic to anyone who doesn’t want it,” Wilson said.

“Sooner or later, everyone who is responsible and accountable will be named and held accountable,” he added.

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