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Amphitheater plan hits sour note with Kearns residents
Promoters say West Ridge site is ideal location

SHARE Amphitheater plan hits sour note with Kearns residents
Promoters say West Ridge site is ideal location

KEARNS -- Promoters sang praises of a 17,000-seat concert venue proposed for a basin of the West Ridge Golf Course, but to some residents here it sounded a bit off-key.

West Valley officials at a joint meeting with the Kearns Community Council Tuesday tried to quell any uneasiness about the project. But no amount of assurances from police, traffic and sound engineers and promoters could convince the crowd of about 200 people that having an open-air concert venue near them is a sweet-sounding deal.West Valley City Administrator John Patterson said a handful of Kearns residents would serve on a task force to review the plans. In addition to that, the city and county would have an agreement for police patrols during concerts.

Bill Parsons, general manager of Universal Concerts, vowed to work with neighbors.

"We are different than other operators because we do listen," he said.

Though a deal hasn't been sealed, Jim McNeil, president of United Concerts, said he hopes construction on the amphitheater will begin this summer and be completed in time for a May 2000 opening. He and Parsons have been negotiating with West Valley City to buy 11.5 acres the city owns just south of the golf course to build and operate the amphitheater.

Sound specialist Jim Johnson called it "one of the best sites I've seen for an amphitheater."

That's because it sits in a gully, so sound won't spill out into the neighboring community, he said.

But Lorin Welker, a Kearns resident, said he didn't trust the test.

For one thing, the test was done on a winter afternoon, although the concerts would be held on summer nights. He also questioned why Johnson didn't measure potential crowd noise.

But Johnson said he used sound levels from an AC/DC concert to test the site's suitability. He didn't conduct a test on the crowd noise because it doesn't carry the deep bass that rattles the neighborhood, he said.

Traffic engineer Grant Schultz of the Sear-Brown Group suggested widening several roads and adding traffic signals at intersections to ease the traffic flow.

West Valley Police Capt. Ed Spann said police would actively enforce the laws against speeding and alcohol. "You're our neighbors and we want to keep you happy."

But Salt Lake County Deputy Paul Fountaine, who patrols the Kearns community, pointed out potential problems and offered some advice.

He said the biggest problem would be tailgate parties in the neighborhoods before concerts. Concertgoers would park about a half-mile from the area to drink and do drugs, he predicted, so he advised against letting people walk in.

Also, instead of sending concert traffic through the neighborhoods, he advised sending traffic along 8400 West.

"That would help make the neighbors feel better," he said.

What would make the project more acceptable to Kearns resident Virgil Christensen would be a smaller concert venue.

"Scale it down to a 3,000-seat or 4,000-seat range," he said. "That will be a benefit to the community."