City ready to push concert park idea ahead

PARKERSBURG – City Council’s Public Works Committee may call a special meeting as early as this week to send a proposed concert park plan to the full council.

A group of businessmen and investors wants to create a concert park near the Fifth Street Bridge west of the city skate park. The plan would include parking areas, a concrete stage and a building on the municipal property.

Officials said they anticipate concerts bringing in 8,000-12,000 people.

The Public Works Committee met Tuesday evening to receive additional information on the park from local businessman Norm Payne and other investors, and making a request for more documentation and additional steps before approving the plan and a possible lease agreement.

Payne said officials teamed with Enoch Entertainment Agency in Vienna to refine the business plan’s revenue and expenditure numbers. Payne spoke about several on-site parking opportunities, security at the venue and went into greater details about facility construction.

Payne said the group is negotiating use of two fields near the area which would be used for on-site parking. The group has begun talks with the Elite Center to use that facility’s parking as well, with Elite keeping the money from renting out the spaces.

The group has spoken with law enforcement about traffic control and plans to use a 8- to 10-man civilian security force to work with police. Payne estimated initial crowds for events would number around 8,000, but said the property can safely handle about 12,000 patrons.

Payne said they believe initial ticket prices would be around $30 each. Those prices could vary depending on the performers brought in and individual contracts.

Officials estimated the initial startup costs would be around $240,000, with about $100,000 of that earmarked for the actual entertainment business which would book acts.

Payne said he will have about 30-35 investors, and many of those have offered to do work, such as electrical and plumbing, in exchange for a share of the company.

Committee member John Kelly asked for the group to have a performance bond in place in case construction plans fell through and the city would need money to remove any remaining structures.

“We’d be glad to do that,” Payne said. “I don’t think that would be a problem for us.”

Mayor Bob Newell said the group would need to hire an attorney to draft a lease agreement with the city. Newell said city attorney Joe Santer would help set parameters for any such agreement, but the city could not draw up the agreement for a private entity.

“At some point you will have to have your own attorney,” Newell said.

Payne said work on the lease agreement would begin immediately.

Committee member Kim Coram asked why a traffic study had not yet been completed for the property, something she had requested at a previous meeting, but both Payne and committee chairman Mike Reynolds said state officials indicated there would not be enough of a traffic impact to warrant the cost of a study.

The committee voted 4-1 asking Payne to return with the requested documents before the plan is sent on to full council for approval. No timeline was indicated on when the next vote would take place, but Reynolds said he could call a special meeting of the committee prior to the regular Oct. 22 city council meeting

Committee member Jim Reed was the only vote against. Reed had previously expressed concerns on the logistics of the plan and whether the group would generate sufficient profit to keep the business going.