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Thursday, September 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 47.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Daily
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Festivals and concerts in Central Park concerns some neighbors on Madison's near east side
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Central Park is being considered as a space for concerts.
Credit:City of Madison

Festivals were always part of the grand scheme for Madison's Central Park but now that the space is under construction, some neighbors have concerns about loud music and unruly visitors.

The park runs along East Wilson Street between Brearly and Baldwin streets; a railroad track cuts diagonally through a portion of it.

Construction of a bathroom facility and pedestrian paths have already been completed and most of the park will be usable for the spring and summer, Ald. Marsha Rummel said at a neighborhood meeting Thursday meeting at the Wil-Mar Center. The park layout also includes a space meant for a farmers' market. The building of a skate park is slated to begin in late summer or early fall.

According to the Central Park master plan, the park is meant to be an event center for festivals such as the La Fête de Marquette, a summertime francophone-themed music and culture festival. Approved by the Parks Commission and Common Council, the plan recommends limiting festivals to three a year, including La Fête.

About two dozen people attended Thursday's meetings. Of those who spoke, most said they wanted to be cautious about the number of festivals allowed -- and volume of music allowed -- until the neighborhood had a chance to see how a festival would affect the area.

Mike Sloan, who lives next to the park, said the festivals would bring litter, theft, pollution and unbearable traffic. He said when La Fête de Marquette was held near his home, people used his yard as a bathroom and stole from him and neighbors.

"I think everyone can agree that it's a huge tax on the neighborhood," he said. "A majority of the people do not want thousands of drunks descending on their neighborhood."

But Jack Kear, a Marquette Neighborhood Association board member who also lives next to the park, said that he wants the space to be full of events and that the number of festivals should be discretionary.

"If [events] are measured and cautiously approached, we can really take advantage of a beautiful space," Kear said.

The park is also being considered as a space for concerts. A preliminary application submitted to the Madison Parks Division is proposing a summer concert series of three free shows on Thursdays in late July and early August.

A Parks Division employee attended Thursday's neighborhood meeting and will report what transpired to the Parks Commission when it meets March 19. Rummel said it was important to apprise the neighborhood of developments and discuss issues of concern: "The important thing was just to get on the front end, talking about what's going to come, our expectations and the process that will be followed so that everybody's on the same page."

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