Another chapter in the Field Day Festival saga from NY Newsday:
Hours after the New York State Police informed the Suffolk County health department that it will not be able to send troopers to help control crowds and traffic at a concert scheduled this weekend in Calverton, the Riverhead Town Board tabled a vote on granting the event a special permit.
It was a double blow for promoters of the event, which already has been denied a separate approval by Suffolk County that will not be reconsidered, a county official told the town board Tuesday night.
But a lawyer for the promoter said he was seeking other venues in the New York metropolitan area for the concert. “We don’t have a formal commitment to stage a concert anywhere,” said Chris Kent, an attorney for the promoters.
After the town board meeting, Riverhead Town Supervisor Robert Kozakiewicz said the town board tabled the resolution because they could face a lawsuit from the promoter or other parties. The board voted 5-0 to table the decision.
The board’s decision was closely watched by the Suffolk County Attorney’s office, which said Tuesday it would seek to stop the concert in court if the promoters didn’t notify ticketholders that the festival was canceled. The bands scheduled to appear include The Beastie Boys and Radiohead.
“We need to get some concrete indications from the promoters that they are advising all of their ticketholders — in as many advertising venues as they used to promote the festival — that it will not be held,” deputy county attorney Robert Cabble said Tuesday, adding the county would appear in court as early as this morning if the board voted to approve the permit.
But Gary Lewi, spokesman for promoter Andrew Dreskin, said Tuesday afternoon that the news the state police were not participating does not necessarily stop the concert. “There are any number of different options that are available to us,” he said, but declined to be more specific. Several other local law enforcement agencies have declined to help, citing either a lack of time or personnel.
Riverhead Town’s chief of police has said he would need about 200 extra officers to help his tiny force control the crowd of 50,000 expected over Saturday and Sunday.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Robert Maimoni, a county health official, Lt. Col. James Schepperly of the state police explained that “our experience has been that several months lead-time is minimally necessary to develop comprehensive concert plans.” The state police were first approached in March, a town official said.
A lack of adequate law enforcement was the reason the Suffolk County health department denied a mass gathering permit for the concert last week. Two weeks ago, Suffolk County police declined to participate, citing concerns about the promoter’s traffic plan and a lack of time for the county attorney to sign a deal with Riverhead town.
In urging the town to approve his client’s permit, Field Day lawyer Chris Kent held aloft two binders several inches thick that he said constituted months of planning by Dreskin and his consultants.
“Before you are pages and pages of good science, based upon good planning,” he told the town board at the meeting Tuesday night. “What you have before you is a tremendous opportunity for the town of Riverhead.”
Kozakiewicz did not return calls for comment Tuesday, but town board member James Lull said he would be willing to approve the permit on the condition that Dreskin receives his approval from the county, a feat Lull acknowledged would be “awfully, awfully difficult.” He added that such a vote could avoid a lawsuit by Dreskin. “If we vote in favor of it with conditions, then the liability is somewhere else,” Lull said.
Bruce Williamson, chief of the health department’s bureau of public health protection, told the town board Tuesday night “the permits will not be issued. I urge the town board to take into consideration that the application was denied.”
The Field Day concert was to occur at the former Grumman property, on 2,900 acres of town-owned land that has been targeted for economic development. The town had hoped the rock festival — and another scheduled for August — would put Riverhead on the map and lure future clients to the site.
Ashley Capps, one of the promoters of Bonnaroo NE, the August festival — slated to last three days and feature acts including Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and The Dead — said he was keeping an eye on the Field Day developments but wasn’t concerned about the impact it would have on his own event. “We’ve been going through our own process in our own way, and we feel like we’ve been working very hard to dot the i’s and cross the t’s,” he said. “These are two very separate events.”
Rumor has it that they may move the festival to Giants Stadium and shorten it to one day.
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