Published Date Written by Gail OberGILFORD — Selectmen agreed to let Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion try offering camping sites on a piece of its property this summer at no more than three events.
The test run, according to Meadowbrook Safety Officer Dominic DiCarli, is to see if allowing limited tent camping in an area near the recycling center would be viable for their customers. He said the site is not near any abutters and there would not be any noise issues.
"Security is one of the reasons we chose that site," he said, noting there would be at least one if not two security officers at the camp site.
He said the live entertainment venue wanted to try tent camping for a limited number of events to see if it was worth making the capital investment into fixed showers and toilets for 2014.
Initially, he said Meadowbrook would bring in a trailers with shower and toilet facilities for the experiment.
The spaces — 96 of them limited to tent camping only — would be 10-feet by 20-feet and no trailers or campers would be allowed.
Addressing Selectman Kevin Hayes concern that camping could take away business from surrounding hotels and motels, DiCarli said a camping site would likely be aimed at a demographic that likely couldn't afford hotels and would likely be driving back home after a show.
DiCarli said the overnight campers could be an economic boost to some of the area restaurants that serve breakfast.
Selectman John O'Brien said the first thing that came to his mind was "Woodstock" and wanted to know how Meadowbrook would enforce its security and curfew rules.
DiCarli said campers would be allowed in the area one hour before the gates open to set up their site. He said each ticket sold with a camping benefit could come with a wrist band and only those people with wrist bands would be allowed into the camping area — that will have one way in and one way out.
He also assured selectmen that Meadowbrook was not interested in harming its good reputation throughout the industry and if the experiment didn't work for any reason, the company would have no qualms about pulling the plug on it.
Police Chief Kevin Keenan said the camping idea was a "big unknown" but that he, Sheriff's Deputy Dave Perkins who handles security at Gunstock during Soul Fest, and the security team at Meadowbrook have met repeatedly and he is comfortable with the experiment.
He assured selectmen that after the first camping event, he and the Meadowbrook team would hold a review and report back to the selectmen.
This is the third expansion and/or project Meadowbrook has undergone this year. By the time the 2013 season starts, they will have expanded their seating capacity from 6,000 to 7,500, built more space under the pavilion for more covered seating, and added upwards of 250 parking spaces. A second entrance and exit onto Kimball Road should be finished before the new season begin.