Reporting Mike Dunn
By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Less than three weeks before the second “Made In America” concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, promoters and the city have yet to sign a contract — and residents near the venue are worried about repeats of last year’s headaches.
City Representative Desiree Peterkin-Bell says she’s not worried that the contract with concert promoters Live Nation is still not signed.
“Coming off of last year, we’ve learned a lot. And we want to make sure that all the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed. Same as last year, but we’re also including some lessons learned.”
Those lessons include better ways to deal with issues like noise and parking headaches that drove residents near the Parkway up the wall last year — at least those residents who didn’t flee town. David Searles, President of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, says one unexpected noise problem were soundchecks at sunrise.
“For the soundchecks, they started very early in the morning, and went late into the night on Friday. As far as the volume of the noise and the bass, its still a concern. Its an impact on our neighborhood.”
Peterkin-Bell says the city intends to restrict the hours for soundchecks:
“This year soundcheck time will be reduced from last year, starting on Friday, 8:30 during the day, ending at 10pm. Saturday and Sunday (the days of the concerts) not before 9am.”
Another issue facing residents near the Parkway during the set-up for Made in America were parking restrictions. David Searles says the no-parking started many days in advance.
“Last year we were all surprised at how early the no-parking signs went up. And many of the streets (with restrictions) just were not used during the set-up.”
City Representative Peterkin-Bell says this year the parking restrictions will reviewed.
“We’re looking at that now. Don’t have anything to say specifically about that. But we did hear what residents are saying and we’ll make those adjustments as well.”
Then there was the midnight nightmare facing residents of the Park Towne Apartment complex. David Searles of the Logan Square group says Made in America concertgoers last year exited from what was supposed to be an emergency gate that sent them pouring onto the apartment grounds.
“A flood of the concert-goers went through Park Towne Place at 12 o’clock at night, and really trampled the grounds there and it was a problem.”
Again, Peterkin-Bell is vowing that the issue this year will be addressed.
“We’re trying to make those adjustments now, with traffic, with police, with operations.”
Then there’s the matter of street vendors who operated last year outside the perimeter of the concert, with many selling beer. Searles says the city did little last year to reign them in.
“It was an issue last year with people selling beer and paraphernalia outside the concert, people not being able to take them in, so they’ll drink them quickly and throw them on the ground, creating trash problems.”
In response, Peterkin-Bell of the mayor’s office promises stepped-up police enforcement of the freelancing vendors this time.
“We’ll make sure we’ll have additional security to make those entrepreneurs are not necessarily obstructing traffic, obstructing pedestrian and are not doing any illegal activity.”
Finally, there’s the issue of the Von Coln ballfield off the Parkway. That field was renovated after last year’s Made in America shows, though that work was previously planned.
Peterkin-Bell says the concert promoters this year will be required to keep heavy equipment off the field, and will be held liable for any damages.
“We’ve made it clear, and it will be in the contract in some form.”
Searles and other residents are taking a wait-and-see approach to the city’s ability to resolve Made in America issues. At the very least, he says, Year two of Made in America will bring fewer surprises.
“We have a better understanding of what to expect.”
Made In America last year featured Jay-Z, and this year’s festival — on August 31st and September 1st — features his wife, Beyonce.