CLEARWATER - During Tuesday's City Council work session, Kevin Dunbar, Clearwater's Director of Parks and Recreation, sought approval of a boilerplate contract that would govern the conduct of concerts on city-owned property including Coachman Park.
The proposed contract addresses issues that have arisen at past events, including noise level, curfew, profanity and attendance limitations.
Designed as a template, the contract contains several "fill-in the blank" fields, including that music must be completed by the specified time of day (9pm on weekdays, 10pm on weekends), and that only a specified number of tickets may be sold (12,500 for Coachman Park).
The contract also formalizes a policy established by the City Council last year, fining a radio station $2,500 for each occurrence of its employees using the F-word or any of its derivatives.
But while being specific about curfew, attendance and obscenity, the contract stops short of defining the allowable noise levels. It reads:
It is also understood that the City has a sound policy for its concerts which absolutely must be adhered to and the City reserves the right to implement its policy at its discretion.The sound policy is neither stated nor referenced in the proposed contract.
Councilmember Bill Jonson asked Dunbar during Tuesday's work session, "Can you supply a copy of the sound policy?"
Dunbar answered, "We don't have anything in writing."
Jonson asked, "Then how is it a policy? How can you hold them accountable for something that doesn't exist in writing?"
Dunbar replied, "They understand that it's an average of 95db at the house mix." He explained that "95 is a low number in the industry, so it's already inherently a problem and if we continue to go back more than that, you start getting to the point where maybe we don't start having events any longer."
Jonson persisted; "I just don't understand how we have a standard when we don't have a standard."
Dunbar defended the contract, satisfied that it gets the event promoter to acknowledge that the City controls the sound level, and can turn down the sound if it chooses to. He said, "If the question is really more of 'we want to have a more specific policy in terms of the numbers and things like that', to me that's kind of a separate question."
Separate or not, the question remains; who benefits from Dunbar's willingness to tell the City Council that the average sound level at Coachman Park concerts is limited to 95db, but unwillingness to formalize that number in a contract with concert promoters? Certainly not the taxpayers of Island Estates, Old Clearwater Bay and Downtown, whose residences are at times invaded by unwelcome concert noise. The City, whose employees earn overtime by working at the events? The concert promoters, who conduct the events with a profit motive? Or the concert attendees, who pay the price of admission with both their dollars and the potential of hearing loss from exposure to noise levels that sometimes peak at over 100DbA?
Debate on the proposed concert contract will continue at tonight's City Council meeting, 6pm at City Hall.
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