Friday, March 7, 2014
SOUTH PORTLAND — Preliminary plans for a seasonal concert venue at Bug Light Park are getting early approval from the park’s users, residents and businesses.
“That’s awesome!” said Kelly Scharf, 24, of Portland when she heard about the plans while walking her dogs in the park Friday afternoon. “We go to a lot of concerts and local shows, and I think it would bring some bigger names to Maine.”
“The more entertainment and activity they bring to Portland and surrounding areas, the better,” said Scharf’s boyfriend, Vince Micucci, 27.
The proposal being developed by city officials calls for a temporary, seasonal stage in the park with seating for as many as 10,000 people. It could open as soon as next year, said Assistant City Manager Jon Jennings.
Scharf said the only downside she could think of was what happened in Prospect Park in her native Brooklyn, N.Y., where large concerts were held this year. Some of the concerts were held on weekends when it rained, so the park got pretty chewed up, she said.
If that happened in South Portland, Scharf said, the city could just call it an experiment that didn’t work.
Scharf’s friend Bryn Redding, 31, of Portland said she’s all for the plan and figures it wouldn’t disrupt her visits to the waterfront park.
“As long as it’s not a concert every day of the week,” she said.
Dorothy Odlin, 80, said she’s undecided until she learns more about the specifics of the plan, “but I’m open to it.”
Odlin figures the concerts might generate business for local shops and restaurants. She said South Portland could use more jobs.
Bug Light Park is in the middle of a light industrial area on the waterfront, with few homes nearby. The closest homeowners are in Breakwater at Spring Point, a condominium complex where residents would probably be close enough to hear concerts and would certainly have to deal with any traffic congestion caused by the concerts because the entrance to the complex is off the main road into the park.
But even there, residents seemed to accept the idea Friday, even though details haven’t been rolled out yet.
“I’ve got no problem with it – people should be entertained,” said Ted Rintell. “People are far too exclusionary.”
Eve Doucette, who lives on Broadway, said the idea of concerts is better than the current controversy in South Portland over a proposed ordinance to bar tar sands oil from the city.
“It’s better than the oil problem,” she said. “I’d rather bring in concerts.”
The biggest potential problem identified is parking.
David Johnston, 62, of South Portland said there’s clearly not enough parking at Bug Light Park for 10,000 people. He suggested using lots at nearby Southern Maine Community College and running shuttle buses to the park.
Ed Anania, whose family owns a sandwich shop nearby on Broadway, said concerts would likely boost his business – “the more traffic, the better” – but the parking issue needs to be addressed.
He said he has friends who live on Munjoy Hill in Portland, where some residents were unhappy with the crowds and noise from the Mumford & Sons concert on the Eastern Promenade in 2012, and he doesn’t want to see that repeated in South Portland.
“I know some of the local people up there were pretty upset,” Anania said, “but if they can solve the parking issues, I think it would be perfect.”
Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: