2015-02-12 / Front Page

Council Endorses Ft. Adams Concerts

By Barry Bridges

After receiving hundreds of emails and phone calls from constituents expressing their opinions on the issue, Newport city councilors weighed in on the Fort Adams concert proposal at their meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 11. In a fourto three vote, the council adopted the plan in concept and kept it alive for consideration by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and other state agencies that have oversight over the fort.

Michele Maker Palmieri, president of Newport Waterfront Events, sought the city’s approval to relocate the summer concerts displaced by last year’s sale of the Yachting Center. Her latest proposal called for a series of up to 10 summer musical events inside the fort walls during a two-month pi- lot program in May and June, with the number of attendees capped at 2,500.

Her plans drew ire from neighborhood residents and others who voiced their concerns about noise, traffic, parking, pedestrian safety, the fort’s historic stature, participation by local musicians, and even the legality of moving concerts to a venue situated near homes.

In forwarding the proposal on to the state level, Councilors Lynn Ceglie, John Florez, and Naomi Neville embraced a motion put forward by Justin McLaughlin that put several conditions on Palmieri’s project, including a 9:30 p.m. ending time, an attendance cap of 2,000 at most of the concerts, a Class P liquor license with no alcohol served after 9:00 p.m., the installation of four radio-calibrated noise monitoring devices, and a formal contract with the city.

Florez felt that the restrictions helped to establish a reasonable compromise between residents and businesses that tout the positive economic impact of the concerts. “This vote comes down to how we want to define ourselves as a city,” said Florez, who felt that Newport should find a businessfriendly balance. The majority also stressed that this initial year would serve as a pilot to determine whether the events put an undue burden on nearby residents.

Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano and Councilors Marco Camacho and Kathryn Leonard stood firm against the proposal in any form, feeling that the surrounding neighborhood would be unduly threatened. “Compromise is good, but in this case it’s the residents who will be compromised,” Camacho maintained.

Speaking to Newport This Week after the vote, Palmieri said, “We’re happy with the outcome. The conditions will require us to change our business plan a bit, but it’s a trial for everyone. We’re good business operators and we can figure this out.”

If Palmieri receives the necessary approvals at the state level, she will have to return to the council to secure the required special use permits and liquor license.

Earlier in the evening, councilors approved an outdoor entertainment license for the Hotel Viking, 1 Bellevue Ave., which plans to offer amplified music for its guests on its rooftop terrace. Although neighbors lined up to lodge their objections, councilors agreed to allow performances by no more than four musicians on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights until 9:40 p.m. Editor's Note: Due to press deadline, there will be a more complete story on the City Council meeting in the Feb. 19 edition.

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