City Council pushed back voting on a massive music festival that would be held at Overland Golf Course, an event that could attract as many as 80,000 people to the quiet Overland Park neighborhood surrounding one of Denver's oldest public parks.
At the meeting on Monday, July 24, councilmembers said they needed more time to read the contract, which some said had been given to them late by the Parks and Recreation Department. They also wanted to weigh public comment.
For months, the proposed festival, which would be operated by the music promoter Superfly, has raised both ire and praise from the neighbors of the Overland Golf Course during public meetings, council committees and in letters to politicians.
Last night's council meeting allotted three minutes to each public speaker who wanted to comment on the festival. Only a handful of people who had signed up to offer their thoughts left before they spoke; most stayed and addressed council as the comment period dragged into the night.
"I definitely shaved off a few years in Purgatory for sitting in these pews for so long," said Joanne Weiss, who spent her three minutes railing against lobbyists, corporations and politicians whom she says aim to use the Superfly festival to "degrade the park" and "displace the people."
Helene Orr, who has long criticized the festival, said, "Public used to mean public. Public now seems to mean private. I think we need to think about putting the 'public' back into parks."
Other concerns raised included the festival's impact on the environment, wildlife and the elderly population in the neighborhood, as well as potential higher rates of crime. Supporters came to the podium to talk about how the festival was visionary and how it would benefit the south Denver neighborhood's economy and turn it into a music hub akin to Austin.
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Both sides cited the new nonprofit performance venue Levitt Pavilion. Festival opponents complained it was a source of excess noise; proponents said it was a testament to how wonderful large-scale music events could be for a neighborhood.
Mara Owen, the head of the Overland Park Neighborhood Association, celebrated the event as a boon for the Overland Golf Course, saying, "This festival will keep parkland in our neighborhood solvent into the future," alluding to the cash flow the festival is expected to generate.
In one of the last exchanges of the evening, Councilman Albus Brooks pressed Councilman Jolon Clark, who represents the Overland Park community, about whether the Superfly festival had been a "done deal" from the beginning, as several critics had stated. Clark told Brooks that it still wasn't a "done deal," and that the assertion that it always had been disturbed him.
The city council will review the contract between the City and Superfly this week, and plans to vote on Monday, July 31.