Opinion: Concerts at Kit Carson Park? Great, but be neighborly

By Staci Matlock
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 8/21/19

Taos Vortex was an amazing three-day spectacle of music, art, entertainers and massive creativity put on at Kit Carson Park by the ever inventive Meow Wolf of Santa Fe.It was also really, painfully …

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Opinion: Concerts at Kit Carson Park? Great, but be neighborly

Posted

Taos Vortex was an amazing three-day spectacle of music, art, entertainers and massive creativity put on at Kit Carson Park by the ever inventive Meow Wolf of Santa Fe.

It was also really, painfully loud - all the way until 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night.

Music that continued after that until nearly midnight was apparently from the campers and after-parties at local bars.

The noise level and a few other concerns detracted from an otherwise great event.

Taos law enforcement once again did a stellar job of keeping festivalgoers safe, even during Saturday's power outage.

The Taos Vortex turnout surely brought some extra visitors to town and put some extra cash in the pockets of a few local businesses. All that is thanks to town leaders who have worked hard to encourage these events and put Taos on the map for great entertainment in such a small town.

In many ways - despite complaints by some residents to the contrary - Kit Carson Park is the best place for such concerts. Put the concerts at any other town park, and there would still be houses. Put the concerts out at Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership near the Gorge and lots of local people would have a harder time getting out there to enjoy the shows, not to mention fewer of the concertgoers would find it convenient to spend money at downtown establishments. Building an amphitheater somewhere near the University of New Mexico-Klauer campus is a good idea but it would be expensive to start from scratch.

All that said, the town should consider a few simple changes for next year's event to make it more neighborly.

First, survey residents living closest to the park. Find out what they think about camping, noise levels, hours and entertainment value.

Second, the town ordinance for the park says no overnight camping allowed without a special use permit. There's a reason for that - partying campers keep the noise going around houses long after the main music ends. So either require the permit next year, encourage campers to go elsewhere or get rid of the ordinance.

Third, set a more reasonable end time and noise limit for Sunday night concerts, especially when school is back in session. And avoid the music starting midmorning Sunday as church services are beginning.

The responsibility lies with town officials to set the tone for these concerts.

Residents living in houses near the park pay taxes that benefit the town. And they have a right to enjoy their property just as much as the concertgoers have the right to enjoy a great festival. Many of those property owners near the park bought their houses long before loud concerts became a part of the scene; they didn't change, the park's use did.

Town officials seem to think it is only newcomers complaining about the concerts in the park. They may be the most vocal, but if the town were to survey legacy families in town, they might find they aren't too happy about the changes at Kit Carson Park, either.

After all the concerts are finished, including Sting in September, town officials should host a public meeting and picnic at the park to talk about all of these issues. There is surely a way to keep these vibrant concerts happening, but in a way that doesn't cause bad feelings.

To do otherwise means town officials are thumbing their noses at any and all people concerned about concerts at Kit Carson Park and doing whatever they please, residents be damned.

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