Condo Owner

Volume19 Issue3 2015

Condo Owner publishes information vital to the business and pleasure of resort condominium ownership. Topics covered relate to real estate market trends, community association matters, rental management issues, tax and insurance updates and more.

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• V O L U M E 1 9 • I S S U E 3 • condo owner www.condo-owner.com 23 special feature update each other on plans and to collaborate on safety and operational issues." The City of Gulf Shores' primary liaison be- tween the various city departments involved in the festival and festival organizers is Grant B rown, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and Public Information Officer. He agreed with O'Connell's assessment of the mutually benefi- cial cooperative effort between city and festival organizers. Through the years, in addition to the city moving the initiation of the noise ordinance back an hour, it also suggested to festival opera- tors that they turn the performance stage speak- ers to the south, away from the rest of the city's population, and agreed to up the attendance cap last year to 40,000. Gulf Shores also extended the festival's contract to 2025. Brown acknowledged that Hangout Music Festival LLC (HOMF-LLC) essentially handles almost everything required for the festival, but the popular event does require certain measures to be taken by the city. "We enable them with city ordinances, permits, those kinds of things, and we turn a few of our roadways into one-way streets to help the flow of non-festival traffic for access to Highway 59," he said. "Our fire and rescue department plays a big role in the safety of the event, as does our law enforcement. We don't have enough police officers to provide police protection for the city and for full support at the festival so we hire sheriff officers and other agencies' officers who are off-duty from their typical work situations to come in and work the music festival. This contingency of dozens of law enforcement officers covers the festival site around the clock to handle law en- forcement issues. Hangout itself hires a security coordinator and contracts with two or three se- curity companies to provide security for the per- formers, to screen at the gates, and other things. Our law enforcement oversees that but does not actually perform those functions." Brown said the city also has a team of fire- rescue employees stationed at the festival site and works in a coordinated effort with Faulkner College through its EMT program and South Baldwin Regional Medical Center, which has medical staff onsite. Traffic is always a concern with an event like this but Brown said it's not a problem during the festival. "Six years in, between Hangout [festival] and the city, our partnership essentially has gotten very good at moving traffic that is coming to the event. Significant money is spent on a shuttle system. The festival hires a company called CID E ntertainment to do shuttle service with charter busses where they presell shuttle passes to the public so they know how many people are going to be coming from all three directions toward the coast. Based on the presales, they know how many shuttles to employ, how many stops they need. So, it's a very sophisticated system." All expenses incurred by the city during the festival, Brown reiterated, are reimbursed by HOMF-LLC. "It's a for-profit event down there and to provide tax-payer's resources exclusively for a for-profit type of entity would not be right." Trouble In Paradise? It would be astounding if an event of this kind and size didn't bring with it a few problems and that has been the case with the festival. The biggest issues have revolved around traffic, noise and alcohol abuse and drug use. The traffic situation, with the employment of shuttles and rerouting traffic, seems to have been dealt with about as well as possible. The noise issue, while not perfect, has nonetheless improved by turning the speakers southward and the good non-at- tending citizens of Gulf Shores have become increasingly tolerant about it. Drug use and excessive alcohol consumption at this year's festival resulted in more than 100 drug arrests with 126 criminal charges, accord- ing to statistics com- piled by Gulf Shores police. Those numbers are almost double last year's totals, but about half as many as 2011. Brown acknowledged that there are potential problems with the festi- val that brings so many people to such a small patch of a modestly sized city. "But over the six years of the festival we've done a very good job of mitigating any issues," he said. Hangin' out in the Future As for the festival's future, "It's an evolving event," said Brown. "And one of the reasons we like this event so much is that it exposes our area to a group of people who will return t o Gulf Shores for vacation as they age and have families. We're excited that Goldenvoice is now a partner with [the festival]. They've been doing major events for many years, a lot longer than the City of Gulf Shores has and longer than [HOMF-LLC] has, so learning from some of their experiences will make our event better." Zislen recognizes that success requires fine tuning and community consciousness. "It's really about how we work with the community as a whole," said Zislin. "Every time you introduce something of this magni- tude, there are a lot of affected parties. Through the years, you try to make sure you get better at minimizing negative impacts and maximizing opportunities – not just for us as the organizing entity but for others in the community in order to achieve the consensus that [the festival] is indeed a long-termed, huge benefit to the community." O'Connell's perspective is infused with optimism. "With the festival's new alliance with Goldenvoice, producers of Coachella, New Orleans Jazz Fest and many other festivals, we have a great partner who loves what we do and loves the event. In the future we'll be tapping into this great company and its resources so we can continue to improve. n

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