Selectmen spike concert venue in Aquinnah
Aquinnah selectmen Monday rejected a proposal from town residents James Glavin and Ted Cammann to create an outdoor performing arts center at the Aquinnah circle adjacent to the Gay Head cliffs. The divided vote followed a sharp and heated debate.
Chairman Jim Newman and Spencer Booker voted in favor of a motion to reject the proposal. Camille Rose, a strong supporter of the use of the circle as a concert venue, opposed the motion.
The selectmen met to approve a warrant for a special town meeting on May 19, when voters might have had the opportunity to take action on a proposed lease between the town and Mssrs. Glavin and Cammann for the long-term use of the circle.
An article that asked voters to decide the question of a lease was included on the draft warrant. The rejection of the proposal means the article will not appear on the special town meeting warrant.
The proposal first surfaced this winter when Mr. Glavin, owner of DECA Construction, and Mr. Cammann, a veteran producer of live music concerts, outlined their plans to create a summer concert venue at the Aquinnah circle.
They proposed to use the land's natural topography as an amphitheater. The stage would be placed in the lower section so that the audience would be looking out in the direction of Nomans Land.
By a vote of 40-15, at a special town meeting on March 3, voters approved an article that asked selectmen to "solicit proposals to lease a portion of the Aquinnah circle for purposes of constructing a performing arts staging structure; provided, however, that any lease will be contingent on approval by a vote of a special town meeting."
Voters were told that a special town meeting would be held in May to consider the terms of any lease.
Mr. Cammann and Mr. Glavin submitted a proposal, the only one received that called for the lease of the circle area, beginning June 1, 2009 for 10 years, with an option to renew. They said events would be held between June 1 and Sept. 30 and be limited to 2,500 tickets for each event. The town would receive $1 per year for the first two years of the lease, and $1 per ticket sold for the last eight years of the lease.
The men aimed to negotiate a ground lease, operating agreement, and enabling document establishing a citizen advisory board, which would be presented to voters on May 19.
During Monday's meeting, chairman Jim Newman stuck fiercely to a strict interpretation of the article approved at the town meeting. He said that the board was under no obligation to accept the proposal submitted, and if it was rejected, there was no question to put before voters.
"There's an overwhelming movement against it, against the way it's been done in such a hasty way," said Mr. Newman. "We don't have a lease, we have not seen a lease. We cannot make any recommendations on the town floor."