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City of Portland delays decision on proposed music festival

The Portland City Council voted unanimously to delay its decision on the proposed festival in Payson Park until next summer.

PORTLAND, Maine — One of Portland’s most picturesque parks could potentially host a major music festival. 

On Monday evening, the Portland City Council was expected to vote on an application for a proposed musical festival in Payson Park, before voting unanimously to delay the decision until June 21, 2023. 

“My request this evening to my colleagues is to postpone this item to a date certain, June 21, 2023, so we can dedicate the appropriate amount of time in understanding what this proposal actually entails,” Portland City Councilor Andrew Zarro said. “To answer the unknowns that are concerning to so many of you and to us on the council, to actually engage city staff in a more in-depth process that feels less rushed, and to include other stakeholders like the parks commission, the local arts organizations, and other interested stakeholders who are interested in being a part of this process.”

Originally, the application was to host the festival in July of 2023. Before the postponement, NEWS CENTER Maine spoke with city leaders involved in the project, and local residents concerned with the proposed plan.

“I think it needs to be done well, but I think it’s an opportunity to bring people together through culture and music and food,” Director of Portland Parks, Recreation, and Facilities Ethan Hipple said. 

C2 Acquisitions is the company applying to use the park for a two-day festival. According to its application, C2 is a new entity of C3 Presents, which hosts major music festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. 

According to the application for the festival, the festival would be held across two stages if approved. 

“The festival will feature a world-class musical lineup, local food and beverage offerings, sponsorship activations, kids’ programming, and more,” the application reads. 

C3 Presents declined an interview with NEWS CENTER Maine on Monday.

Hipple is optimistic that the music festival could be a success. 

“We certainly think there could be challenges with hosting the event, but we think we’re up for the challenges and can work with the organizer and community to address the needs and make this come off without a hitch,” Hipple said. 

A number of residents expressed concerns, however, about the impacts the festival could have, and the lack of details included in the application.

“At first I was, ‘Oh that’s amazing,’ and then I was like, ‘Wait a minute, what exactly are we talking about here,'” Devin Green, a self-proclaimed live music lover who lives nearby the park, said. 

Green said she’s concerned in particular by a possible closure of the park to the public for an unknown amount of time. While the festival itself would only be two days, the application states portions of the park would need to be closed for setup and breakdown. 

“I feel like closing an entire park, I just can’t get behind that. I don’t care how many details we have, closing an entire park feels like not what our public parks are for,” Ashley Flowers, a local yoga instructor who holds lessons in Payson Park, and lives nearby, said.

“Public parks are for the public to enjoy,” Flowers added.

The original application did not address concerns such as parking, a map of the proposed space, and other logistical details. Hipple said he and his staff have and will work with the applicants if approved to make it all possible.

“There certainly can be impacts from an event like this, whether it’s parking and traffic to litter, or impacts to the park itself. We’ve worked really closely with the event organizer to figure out how to mitigate those impacts, or avoid them in the first place,” Hipple said.

Following Portland’s postponement of the issue until the summer, it will no longer be possible to hold the event in 2023. 

Applicants will now focus on holding it in 2024. 

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