NPU-E voted Not to Support Music Midtown 2015 at its March 3, 2015 meeting due the adverse impact of the event on the adjacent neighborhoods, schools, and to Piedmont Park. Since the festival re-location to Piedmont Park, the event continues to grow with little effort to minimize the negative spill-over effects of increased safety concerns, congestion, noise, trash, damage to Piedmont Park, disruption of school instruction and operations, and the ability of residents to have a peaceful weekend in their own home. NPU-E seeks to minimize transportation impacts, public safety concerns (including Traffic planning), damage and outages of the public Park, impact on Education, ensure respect for residents’ livelihood and quality of life, and respect other festivals that might be scheduled in the Park around the same time. These concerns are relevant to and in accordance with the City of Atlanta Code of Ordinances Sec. 142-4 “Purpose and Intent of Outdoor Festival Chapter” “…. In order to conserve and allocate the city's resources, both in terms of personnel and of the natural areas and infrastructure, and to adequately protect public safety and the safety, health and welfare of outdoor event participants, neighboring property owners, residents and businesses, the city finds that it is necessary to regulate the use of the city's parks and streets by those desiring to hold outdoor events on public property, and to regulate large outdoor events on private property.”
SAFETY & SECURITY
We are concerned with public safety, especially at the end of the event when crowds exit the park. In 2014, a shooting occurred on Charles Allen. After the event ends, police officers should patrol Charles Allen Drive from the park south to Ponce de Leon and along all other side streets, to reduce the likelihood of the incidents that occurred there last year. At minimum, we call for strict compliance with full security plans in accordance with Outdoor Festival Chapter Sec. 142-51. - Additional definitions … (c) Festival gathering area means the entire area of the outdoor festival for which the host is responsible under the terms of this article V, including the following elements: the festival production area, all vending locations connected with the outdoor festival, the area where the anticipated crowd can reasonably be expected to locate itself upon arrival at the outdoor festival, and a perimeter in every direction from the outer limits of the foregoing elements a distance of: (1) The greater of three blocks or 1,500 feet for all Class A events.
Also noted was a smoke bomb released into the crowd during the Eminem concert in 2014. We recommend Festival Monitor supervised bag searching.
As a public space and as an Atlanta Fire and Rescue responsibility, we believe that the number of people in the fenced in area at Piedmont Park at any given time should be a matter of public record. Third-party clicker data reflecting those coming in and going out of the festival alleviates overcrowding concerns and ensures the safety of the patrons and the adjoining residents.
Music Midtown impacts cars, pedestrians, cyclists and transit users over a two week period. The goals are to minimize the effects during the setup, the festival duration, and break down, to incentivize MARTA, pedestrian, and cycling use, and to dis-incentivize attendees driving without a specific confirmed designation that can accommodate them. At minimum, every aspect under this heading is subject to compliance with Outdoor Festival Chapter Sec. 142-51. - Additional definitions (see above).
Lane closures: The closure of the two lanes on 10th street adjacent to Piedmont Park AND the closure of the 10th St. parking lane (from Myrtle to Monroe) for 12 days increases travel times, congestion, pollution, and blocks MARTA bus stops. In 2014, there were no signs positioned at 10th & Peachtree, nor near the MARTA station, warning drivers that 10th street was closed ahead. The street closure also made ingress and egress to schools
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challenging. With the closure of 10th St. during the event, the residents that live on 10th St. were not able to access their homes with their car. This made customary weekend activities for residents challenging. For 2015 we recommend allowing 10th street residents to access their property via car to eliminate hardship. We also recommend having an eastbound and westbound lane open on 10th street for the duration of the event.
Lack of coordination with MARTA and its patrons: Bus rerouting - In 2014, several bus routes were re-routed for the event with no notice provided at the Midtown Station, nor in the affected buses. Information on alternative routing was not readily available. Information posted at bus stops noted bus rerouting would begin at 7:00 pm on Friday. In reality, the routes were re-routed at noon on Friday when 10th street was closed. In addition, some bus stops were effectively closed during the event and did not post rerouting notification. Grady High School students were waiting for the bus on 8th St. on Friday after school and those bus stops were not marked.
Blocked Bus stops: In 2014, bus stops on 10th street were inaccessible from the event set-up to break down. With the sidewalks closed, there was no safe place to wait for the bus or exit the bus. The bus stop on Charles Allen was blocked by large semi-trucks.
Bus service from Midtown Station: MARTA provides direct service from Midtown Station to Piedmont Park via several routes. In the past, instead of working with MARTA to encourage patrons to take the bus, buses were re-routed due to street closures. We propose, as an alternative, to allow buses to operate on 10th street and notify Music Midtown attendees of the bus service. Other options are to develop a formal plan with MARTA to incentivize rail use, including the following components: a pre-paid Breeze card furnished on-line with each ticket; end-of-event bus shuttles to the 10th St. and Arts Center Stations; increased train frequency to accommodate arrival and departure at peak usages.
Electronic Signage on Sidewalks: In 2013 and 2014, electronic signage was placed on sidewalks in complete disregard for pedestrians, ADA accessibility, and public safety. Large numbers of people walk in the area and the placement of the signs did not leave 5 ft. of clear zone to allow adequate room for pedestrians, people with disabilities and strollers. This endangered pedestrians by forcing them to use the roadway. Signs were placed in front of Inman Middle School, between Fire Station 15 and the senior high-rise, near the Margaret Mitchell House, and near ADA ramps in several locations. Permits from the City of Atlanta Department of Public Works should be obtained to install the signs, and the signs should be placed on the road way.
Parking in the neighborhood: During Music Midtown 2014, MARTA ridership increased by 20K on the Saturday of the festival. With over 85K tickets sold, over 60K arrived into the area without MARTA. Regardless of Music Midtown efforts to promote MARTA, attendees park in neighborhood streets. Many of the streets are narrow and when vehicles are parked on both sides of the streets, the travel lanes are narrowed and make it difficult for cars to safely navigate the streets. The increased congestion on narrow neighborhood streets limits the ability of public safety vehicles to travel on these streets. Music Midtown must work with the city to ensure all affected streets in the neighborhoods can accommodate emergency vehicles. As well, Music Midtown needs to have a messaging component through apps (like Parking Panda) and their websites that imply that there is ample parking for the event in public parking decks.
Parking in the Midtown Business District: Music Midtown should develop and implement a plan to provide parking in the numerous decks in the Midtown Business District. There are 65K Parking spots in Midtown Improvement District. While not all decks may be willing to open up to festival patrons, Music Midtown should identify the parking deck operators willing to open during the event and posting these on their websites. Pride partnered with Parking Panda to provide information on available parking in Midtown.
Bicycle Parking: We recommend repeating and reporting on the successful bicycle parking techniques and approaches (the Bike Valet) developed and provided in conjunction with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (ABC) over the last few years. Expand Bike Valet informational signage along the Beltline and directional signage to Bike Valet around Monroe & 10th. Expand on-site and web-based info on these topics and also on the closings of the Cycle-
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Track; add the ABC bike map to the MM, ABC, ABI, NPU and local neighborhood association’s websites. Increase the lighting around the Bike Valet area and media/will call areas to accommodate late-night users.
Music Midtown adversely impacts the Children’s School and Grady High School. These schools are within the Festival Gathering Area as defined in Outdoor Festival Ordinance Sec. 142-51 - Additional definitions. The closure of two 10th street lanes adjacent to Piedmont Park, removing the parking lanes adjacent to each school, and eliminating the cycle track inhibits ingress/egress to each school. Removal of the parking lane eliminates the ability of the Children’s School parents to pick-up and drop-off for a two week period. These closures also make access to Grady High School challenging and potentially unsafe. In 2014, the Children’s School staff stated that it was very difficult to conduct business as normal with no parking lane on 10th Street in front of the school. Parents, who may need to stop by the school for a moment, visitors to the school, deliveries, etc., will not be able to do so. “Nine school days is a long time for The Children’s School not to be doing business as usual. Also, there is the issue of paying for offsite parking for faculty and staff.” At a March 9th 2015 joint meeting, Atlanta Board of Education Members expressed concerns about the disruption of education caused by Music Midtown to the Atlanta City Council.
With minimal notice in 2014, the Children’s School was forced to close its afterschool program on Friday as parents would have been prohibited down 10th St. after 3 pm on Friday. As a result, parents cut short their work day to pick up their child. In addition, the loud volume of the sound checks during the school hours on Thursday and Friday, impair the ability of Grady High school and The Children’s School to provide instruction. To make matters worse, the students heard a litany of swear-words from the rapper/entertainer(s) doing the sound checks.
IMPACT TO LOCAL BUSINESSES
Local businesses that should be covered by the Outdoor Festival Chapter Sec. 142-51 - Additional Definitions reported to the Midtown Neighbors Association that the lane closures, delays, and traffic congestion resulted in a reduction of business as people avoided coming to the Midtown/Piedmont Park area. We recommend that Music Midtown reach out to them to deal with their concerns.
The music volume in surrounding neighborhoods is excessive. Noise inside homes and rattling windows make it impossible for residents to have a peaceful and relaxing weekend. The noise disrupts the sleep of people that go bed before 11 pm, such as children or those that work on the weekend. The event’s noise impact on surrounding neighborhoods should be evaluated and the existing noise ordinance should be enforced for festivals.
This section in its entirety is relevant to Sec. 142-4 “Purpose and Intent of Outdoor Festival Chapter”… “The intent is also to insure that the city's parks are protected from extreme wear and tear, by limiting the number and type of events held in parks.”
Music Midtown has grown exponentially, with the festival application approved as a Class B size event with 35 K people in 2012, to a class A size with 170 K people (85K/day) in 2015. With this growth, the damage to Piedmont Park has increased. We continue to have concerns with the increasing scale of these events and the repeated damage to Piedmont Park - particularly the increased stress on Oak Hill which has been noted by the Piedmont Park Conservancy, Certified Arborists, and the City Parks Department. These concerns for the Park are exacerbated by the apparent lack of City monitors capable of managing and minimizing the damage inflicted on the Park during these massive set-ups and break-downs.
We also note that the Conservancy’s/Atlanta Parks Dept.’s policy regarding use of Oak Hill changed in 2013 at the request of Live Nation/Music Midtown to allow for 65,000/day on Oak Hill instead of the maximum recommended attendance of 10,000 people per day. There seems to be no consideration of the precedent that has been set and little consideration given to the actual damage to the flora and fauna which caused large areas of the park to be unsightly and fenced off to the public for up to 6 months in 2013-2014 from the rain. In 2014, contrary to the advice of professional arborists and the Piedmont Park Conservancy, the City of Atlanta Parks Department approved an application with an even larger footprint on Oak Hill and the addition of 20,000 more attendees/day, making the Oak Hill accessible to 85,000 people/day. NPU-E continues to recommend that since this event is held
We disagree with closure of much of the public park for set-up and take down which is now almost two weeks. Public access to this public park is eliminated for the entire frontage along 10th St. during this time. In addition, parts of the park are closed after the event, in order to allow for the vegetation to recover from the damage caused by crowds and the equipment. Six months after the event in September 2014, the grass in the Meadow still has damage from Music Midtown. Although grass can grow back, it is harder for trees to recover from the damage to their root zone. The tree protection fence installed for the event is minimal and does not protect many of the trees in the event area, such as the sick tree in the meadow, close to Park Tavern.
In 2014, a Midtown resident trying to get to the park was cited for not obeying an order to stay off the sidewalk. The Midtown Neighbors Association received several complaints that the Police Officers hired by Music Midtown were very aggressive in 2014 towards cyclists and park goers and it was unclear as to whether they were working as public servants or paid security. We call upon the city to review this concern as an appearance of a conflict of interest.
SANITATION: TRASH RECEPTACLES AND PORTABLE TOILETS
After the event, the park and neighborhood are littered and smell of urine. Inside the venue, many of the toilets were overflowing well before the close of Music Midtown on Saturday night in both 2013 and 2014. More portable toilets are needed to avoid public urination on streets, alleys and private property. And those toilets must be serviced/emptied each night. There has not been enough well managed trash receptacles, and trash through the neighborhood was a problem. In both 2013 and 2014, paid festival monitors documented the need for more trash receptacles throughout the venue. Music Midtown should have trash teams scour the adjacent streets and BeltLine within 1/2 mile in all directions on Saturday and Sunday morning and pick up trash on the streets and areas of public use. Expand the existing practice of removing trash from Piedmont Park beginning very early on Saturday and Sunday morning, so that the day’s visitors, cyclists, and walkers will not encounter it. Collect it and remove it from the site by mid-day. At minimum, we call for strict compliance with Outdoor Festival Chapter Sec. 142-51 in regards to sanitation measures in the Festival Gathering Areas.
LEASING PUBLIC SPACE FOR PRIVATE PROFIT
We are concerned that the city has essentially leased a good portion of the public park, Piedmont Park, for almost two weeks to a for-profit entity, Live Nation. The city also rents this public space at a rate of $500,000: $400,000 of which goes to the city, and $100,000 is paid in consulting fees to the Piedmont Park Conservancy. As far as we know, this amount has not changed even though Music Midtown has almost tripled in size over the past three years, taken up more space in the park, extended its footprint to include two lanes of traffic, two parking lanes, the BeltLine crossing at 10th and Monroe, and the cycle track on 10th St. This increase is causing more damage
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