Making waves over Chautauqua Pops

While the controversy has apparently been settled, I still found the recent story about the problems of the Chautauqua Lake Pops Concert Series intriguing because it combined many elements of a good story.

As the story goes, four individuals filed a lawsuit against the promoters of the Chautauqua Lake Pops Concert Series saying that the concerts held on the lakeshore in Mayville were a violation of the Local Water Front Revitalization program or LWRP which is a program designed by the towns and villages bordering on the lake to make their communities better places to live for residents and more attractive to tourists.

Looking through the Mayville portion of the LWRP I noted that one of the proposed projects were improvements at the Town Park where the concerts were first held in 2019 and will be again this year now that the state has issued the necessary permit.

The improvements envisioned upgraded parking in the park as well as at offsite locations for events, a year-round bathhouse, I assume with restrooms, likely available for concert goers, and a performance shell, which would be available, I also assume, for concerts. The LWRP makes no mention of any requirement that it be on dry land or on the water.

Regarding the lawsuit, I can understand why some people living nearby might be offended by the volume or the style of the music because not everyone has the same musical taste and sensitivity to sound. However why four people would take an action that eliminates something that brings pleasure to so many and economic benefit to the community is beyond me, particularly in view of the recent COVID-19 lockdown.

Two of the parties involved in the lawsuit are a husband and wife with the husband the president of a company in the sound business. According to his wife he made recommendations and offered free equipment to solve the volume problem back in 2019 but was according to his wife soundly rebuffed by Dan Dalpra, CEO and founder of the concerts.

I asked myself if there was an element of miscommunication that developed in that discussion knowing that we humans sometimes talk at cross purposes without even realizing that. Or was the other party, obviously a knowledgeable expert on matters of sound, upset that his expert input was allegedly rebuffed by Mr. Dalpra an issue? We will never know what transpired in that 2019 discussion but it always seems to me that reasonable people should be able to settle things without going to war but maybe I’m naive?

After 20 years of little or no controversy while the concerts were performed at Bemus Point, a lawsuit was filed against the Chautauqua Lake Pops and the village of Mayville.

The suit contained an October 2020 letter from the State stating that the floating stage and attached dock were not consistent with the LWRP. It went on to say that the area including the floating stage not being a water dependent structure, would lead to the event limiting access to the waterfront because it’s a ticketed event, as well as limiting access to water related activities.

Some of those words contained in the letter confused me, such as what was the definition of a “water dependent structure” employed by the letters author and just how would a floating stage, used one night a week during the summer near the shore and certainly “dependent” on water to float, substantially limit access to the lakefront? All I can say is that it was probably written by a lawyer and lawyers think differently than other people. Now before I’m attacked as a lawyer hater let me say that my father was a lawyer, two of his uncles as well as a cousin were, one of my brothers is one, and my eldest son and his wife are both in the profession. I love lawyers, but they don’t always think like you and I.

When I look at a waterfront, I see a place where many pleasant activities can be undertaken in a pleasant atmosphere while a lawyer looking at the same waterfront wonders about the adversarial relationship between the beach and the water.

Earlier this month, Mayville Mayor Ken Shearer announced that the concerts would remain on hold until the State Office of General Services issued the permit. Sounding a bit frustrated he added that in all the years of performing at Bemus Point a permit was never needed and also pointed out that the floating stages has long been a part of Mayville’s LWRP.

Finally, the state came to its senses and granted a temporary permit allowing the concert series to run through Sept. 4. Now a lot residents who have spent over a year cooped up at home, unable to do much can look forward to Saturday night concerts the rest of this summer.

Thomas Kirkpatrick Sr. is a Silver Creek resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com


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