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Aegis Opinion

Havre de Grace officials should relocate Hutchins Park tent and concerts, neighbors say

The public should have the right to use this open space and it is being denied.

The following letter to the City of Havre de Grace was provided for publication:

Mayor, Councilmen and Involved Staff:

Last night at Hutchins Park the concert held in the tent was so loud it literally rattled our windows.

It lasted three hours and is only 75 feet from our home. There is a 50 slip boat basin along one side where people relax and enjoy their boats. You could hear the amplified sound all the way from Fountain Street to Pennington Avenue and up to Union Avenue.

The City has scheduled over 80 events on Congress Avenue since the tent was put in the street last July 2015. Before this time, and for the previous 25 or 30 years, there had been one or two occasions per year that the street was used for any festival or event. The owners of the adjoining properties went along with and supported these events. This is a two-block dead end street with inadequate parking and unsafe traffic flow to handle crowds.

The tent and shed have visually blocked the entire entrance to this small waterfront park and impeded or stopped access to the visitors that wish to use it. During many of these events the street is blockaded all the way across. There is no fishing, kayak put-in, picnicking, transient boat use, or just walking there and enjoying the water views when these many events are being held. The public should have the right to use this open space and it is being denied.

There are four property owners, and three businesses that abut this section of Congress Avenue and there is a constant struggle as their entrances and exits are repeatedly blocked. And the rights to the use of their property and the right of peaceful enjoyment have been abused.

The City has not been respectful or cooperative in solving these issues. There was a meeting last fall held after the Oktoberfest brought 3,000 people to this site. Three property owners, Mayor Martin, Council President Gamatoria, City Attorney Ishak and Administrator Sypolt attended and all agreed that the Oktoberfest event overwhelmed this venue and should be held elsewhere. Yet, it is again on the agenda for this year.

The expenses that have been incurred in creating this parade of events is staggering. The taxpayers have been asked to pay for the tent, its maintenance and storage, the ice rink, the sound, light and surveillance systems installation, chair and table rentals, security personnel, city staff planning and setting up entertainment, winterization of the bathrooms and maintenance now of their year round use, clean up and set up of staged events, and paying employee overtime for all the after hours activities.

Is anyone on the council watching this scenario develop and approve of this direction? Do you think that this is the best path for the city to follow and in the best interests of the town? Are you representing the taxpayers and those that live and work here? Most will agree that the charm and character of Havre de Grace comes from its waterfront ambience, its history, the peaceful livability and its small town friendliness – not beer gardens and loud music in the city streets. If the tent is an important feature in your plans, it should be relocated to a more appropriate place.

Respectfully,

Barbara and Gary Pensell

The writers are residents of Congress Avenue adjacent to Hutchins Park – The editor.

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