Jamboree weekend concert plan gets compromise OK

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home City Council split the difference July 12 on a request for a public address permit for the Waterhole Tavern during two days of Jamboree weekend.

Neighbors told the council they were opposed to a permit, while the Waterhole was requesting permission to hold an outdoor concert following the Jamboree until 2 a.m. on July 29 and 30.

The council granted the permit but authorized the concerts until 1 a.m. instead.

A year ago, the council granted a similar request to the Last Frontier after neighbors voiced their concerns about the event and then agreed to a compromise. Oregon Liquor Control denied the outdoor event, and it was not held.

As long as sound will not be heard beyond 1,000 feet from an event, Police Chief Bob Burford can approve permits, he said. When sound is likely to travel further, he takes the request to the council.

Historically, he has approved permits until midnight, Burford said, but last year, the council’s decision with the Frontier suggested longer hours be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“We worked out a plan,” said Waterhole owner Theresa Brown, who is allowing a maximum of 200 people to attend, while she could legally have upward of 375. “It’s a good plan, and I tried to take my neighbors into consideration.”

The band plans to have a motor home and an enclosed trailer behind the stage, said Loran Koch, singer for the group, Shades of Gray. Those vehicles will serve as a sound barrier to the rear of the stage, between the Waterhole and the Foster Lake RV Resort to the east, while the sound is directed toward Weyerhaeuser’s Foster plant to the west.

“I think we can control the sound in a manner that can make everyone happy,” Koch said.

Neighbors complained that week to week, sound from the bands can be heard through the doors, which are kept open. Randy Claasen, whose band plays at the tavern, told the council that most bands are cooperative about turning down their sound.

“It does bring (economic development) to the town,” Koch said. “For all of us to take advantage of it is kind of what this is all about. The Jamboree makes noise around people’s houses, and we allow that.”

“This music will be heard by three RV parks that should be full of tired patrons of the Oregon Jamboree and full-time residents as well,” said Theresa Howard. “They come in dead tired. They want rest. The people that want to party aren’t the people going to the Jamboree.”

The council received a letter, signed by 31, stating that the noise level is generally too loud during most band engagements as it is.

“We are not trying to cause any hardship to the owners of the Waterhole,” the letter said. “They have bands on a regular basis. We wish only that they have some consideration for us and our desire to get a good night’s sleep.”

Howard added that she and others eat at the Waterhole and no one wants to see the Waterhole go under.

The council also received copies of e-mails from four patrons of the RV park who stay there because it is quiet.

“I appreciate you looking into this to see how many people it’s really going to affect versus the benefit,” said park owner Bim Tryon. “The noise level is going to be higher.”

“It is very much a nuisance to me,” said Steven Olin, owner of the Country Star park further east, at the intersection of Riggs Hill Road and Highway 20.

Many of his tenants are elderly and disabled, he said. “They come out to my place for a nice, peaceful place to live. This is my busiest weekend of the year. I have a suspicion that I’m going to have tons of complaints. I’m going to lose business. I don’t want to see people coming to the Jamboree here get disillusioned.”

When alcohol is involved, there will be fights, he said. A shuttle, which will be available, is not mandatory; and there will be drunken driving. The area also does not have enough parking for that many people.

Brown said that right now, all of the traffic is downtown, and her event will mean fewer people walking around getting into fights.

Her bar has fewer incidents than any other in town except The Point Restaurant, she said. The event will be managed by her experienced staff, with double the amount of required security personnel.

It’s three days of inconvenience, Brown told the council. “All I’m asking for is six to eight hours. Bottom line is, just like all of the rest of you in Sweet Home, I am attempting to utilize the Jamboree for economic development, just like Marge (Geil, Jamboree founder) and the team wanted us to.

“All I’m asking is for you all to decide how fair it is for Sweet Home to be allowed to be noisy with business and music for three days in order to generate revenue for the community and by doing so, inconvenience a thousand inhabitants and yet deny my request for six to eight hours of business and music at Foster Lake because of a group of 40 or so people – that mostly don’t live here – who just don’t like change.”

“I feel that 2 o’clock is a little extreme but what if we, to use a bad term, split the baby and go to 1 o’clock?” asked Mayor Craig Fentiman.

That would allow the tavern to take advantage of Jamboree patrons after the Jamboree ends for the night, he said.

“I’ll be honest, when the Jamboree started, I hated it,” said Councilor Ron Rodgers. “It’s an inconvenience. It’s grown to be a very good thing for this community.”

It brings in tourism dollars that help the community, he said. It’s an inconvenience for two nights a year.

He thought the council should give the Waterhole a shot and revisit the question next year if necessary.

An event like this brings a variety of music and is a chance for local bands to be recognized, perhaps by some of the people involved with the big names visiting the Jamboree, Rodgers said.

Brown indicated her willingness to close down the event at 1 a.m.

Olin told the council that he had no issue with it either.

“Over the Jamboree, there’s going to be a lot of people up partying,” Olin said. “That’s something we all put up with. My main concern is that it’s not a weekend ordeal.”

Fentiman told him it was only for one weekend, and Olin replied that he had no problem with that.

“Everybody does deserve a chance to make something work,” Olin said.

The council voted 5-1 to approve the permit. Voting yes were Fentiman, Rodgers, Greg Mahler, Jim Gourley and Mike Hall. Marybeth Angulo voted no. Scott McKee Jr. was absent.

“My concern is for those elderly people out there,” Angulo said, noting the campers who appreciate the peace and quiet. “It’s a better deal than 2 o’clock. I just had reservations about how it’s going to impact people.”

In other business, the council:

n Approved the creation of two new salary schedule steps for non-represented employees and supervisors. The arrangement is comparable to what general city employees received. The new steps increase wages by 3 percent, and employees receive the steps on the anniversary of their hire date rather than the typical July 1.

The bottom steps of the city’s five-step salary schedule will be removed.

n Approved the closure of 13th Avenue between Long and Main streets and Long Street between 13th and 15th avenues from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 20 for the Third Annual Saleabration.