June 4, 2003, 12:54 PM EDT
The Riverhead Town Supervisor Robert Kozakiewicz announced this morning that a two-day rock concert scheduled for this weekend in Calverton would not happen.
"In the interest of the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the Town of Riverhead and the public, I believe that the event should be cancelled," he said in a prepared statement.
Christopher Kent, a lawyer for the for the Field Day Festival promoters, said they are now seeking a new location in the New York City metropolitan area for the concert, which they will announce by the end of the day. He said refunds will be given to ticket-holders who request them.
Stating that at a new venue the concert, which was to feature headline acts such as the Beastie Boys, Radiohead, and Beck, would be a "different type of event," Kent said that the Meadowlands Sports Complex in New Jersey was one site under consideration. He added that there would be no camping at the concert's new location.
Yesterday, the concert promoters filed suit in Federal District Court in Islip seeking a restraining order and injunction to prevent the town of Riverhead from canceling the event. Kent said the suit will be changed to seek monetary damages now that the concert has been called off at the Calverton site. He said initial estimates put the costs upwards of $3 million.
"We are still crunching the calculators," Kent said.
The concert was thrown into doubt last week when Suffolk County denied the promoter a mass gathering permit, citing a lack of adequate police protection. Two weeks ago, the Suffolk County police declined to participate in the event, citing a concern over the concert traffic plan and a lack of time for the county attorney to sign a contract with the town.
Since then, town officials and the event promoter scrambled to convince other law enforcement agencies to provide the approximately 200 additional officers need to control traffic and the expected crowd of 50,000.
Last night, facing a possible court injunction filed by Suffolk County, the town board voted to table a resolution on their own special events permit, effectively denying the application since another meeting is not scheduled for this week.
This morning, Kozakiewicz and other town board members blamed Suffolk County for the event's failure, saying the county police departmentn's failure to participate effectively killed the concert. "I really don't know what the politics were, but yes, I do think politics did play a role," Kozakiewicz said.
County officials have said Riverhead Town and the promoter approached the county too late to adequately plan the event.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Robert Maimoni, a county health official, Lt. Col. James Schepperly of the state police explained that "our experience has been that several months lead-time is minimally necessary to develop comprehensive concert plans." The state police were first approached in March, a town official said.
A lack of adequate law enforcement was the reason the Suffolk County health department denied a mass gathering permit for the concert last week. Two weeks ago, Suffolk County police declined to participate, citing concerns about the promoter's traffic plan and a lack of time for the county attorney to sign a deal with Riverhead town.
The Field Day concert was to occur at the former Grumman property, on part of the 2,900 acres of town-owned land that has been targeted for economic development. The town had hoped that this rock festival and another scheduled for August would put Riverhead on the map and lure future clients to the site.
Ashley Capps, one of the promoters of Bonnaroo NE, the August festival slated to last three days and feature acts including Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and The Dead, said he was keeping an eye on the Field Day developments but wasn't concerned about the impact it would have on his own event. "We've been going through our own process in our own way, and we feel like we've been working very hard to dot the i's and cross the t's," he said. "These are two very separate events."
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