Block Party planners discuss festival goals, community concerns

Thursday night’s Capitol Hill Block Party meeting in the sweltering second floor of Caffe Vita previewed what is to come in Capitol Hill Block Party’s first year as a three day festival. Event organizers emphasized their efforts to be more accommodating to neighborhood residents and businesses this year. 

The Aftermath @ Capitol Hill Block Party, 7/26/2008 Originally uploaded by iamdonte

Event organizers assured the thirty Capitol Hill residents and business owners in attendance that they are working to ensure those who live and work in the blocks that will be blocked off during the festival will not be inconvenienced. Delivery trucks and residents who have purchased parking spaces within the festival footprint (which covers Broadway to Pike Street, two blocks of 10th and 11th Avenue) will still be able to reach their properties through fire lanes that will remain open to approved traffic. 

There were some complaints in previous years that the guards in charge of securing the border of the festival were not accommodating to residents who live within the boundary. The planning committee has hired a new security company to manage the border, saying they had received numerous complaints about the security company previously hired to secure Block Party’s entrances being rude to residents.

“If the current access plan isn’t addressing your needs, let us know,” said Marcus Charles of the planning committee.

Some community members stated similar concerns about the festival that were expressed by business owners earlier this week, questioning whether disruption of neighborhood business was really worth it. Matria from the Hot House called the third day “too much.”

“As much as we love music, you’re asking us to deal with a lot,” she said.

Planners called the third day an experiment and they will welcome comments about this year’s event but not all community members are excited for the third day, which will feature a set from Jack White. A survey will be distributed to community members to determine the neighborhood’s satisfaction with the new format. The board assured the attendees that they will work with businesses and residents to mitigate any negative effects.

“We really won’t know [how the third day will go] until it happens,” said Dave Meinert from the planning committee.

Others were concerned about the noise produced by the festival. Meinert said more money has invested more in sound this year. Engineers will work the sound boards to ensure Seattle sound ordinances are obeyed. Speakers will be tilted slightly downward to cast sound in front of the stage, preventing a “sound funnel” effect.

The festival is also working to create less waste this year. Compostable cups will be used this year and fewer street food vendors will be working the streets. In previous years, 80 percent or more of the waste caused by the festival has been recycled, according to Meinert.

“Most of what we bring into the neighborhood leaves,” he said.

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One thought on “Block Party planners discuss festival goals, community concerns

  1. The security last year were rude, period. I’m not sure what their “orders” were as far as dealing with the attendees, but this change should be positive.