Heavy-metal concert raises eyebrows, concerns in Farmington

Jun 20 2010 - 11:58pm

FARMINGTON -- A heavy-metal band playing in a park recently provided some unexpected background music during the Miss Farmington Pageant held nearby at the city's Arts Center, leading city officials to potentially reconsider guidelines for use of parks by musical groups.

No arrests were made during the early June concert, but the heavy dose of heavy metal did raise some eyebrows and concerns.

Current city guidelines allow two concerts a year, per park. The guidelines also limit a concert to two hours in length, though Neil Miller, city parks and recreation director, said the heavy-metal concert went beyond the guideline by two hours.

City officials have gone so far as to discuss possible limits on the decibel level of concerts and have raised concerns about the content of some of the music.

They also have talked about raising the deposit and fees for concerts, as well as having a city presence at any musical event, where someone can pull the plug on an event if guidelines are exceeded.

The city currently charges a $25 fee for use of the park, along with a $50 deposit.

"I'm not concerned about the decibels, it's the lyrics," said Councilman Jim Talbot.

While raising the issue of lyrics, he also cautioned that he didn't want to get into a free-speech confrontation with music groups. He admits he is not a fan of what he describes as "yelling and screaming."

Councilman Rick Dutson attended the pageant and suggested the unexpected background music didn't add to the atmosphere.

"I don't think it was a benefit to Farmington residents," Dutson said. He described those attending the concert as "interesting folks."

He, too, worries about addressing content. "We can restrict vulgarity, can't we?"

Besides raising fees and tightening enforcement of time limits, city officials recognize there may be no easy answers.

City Manager Max Forbush said cities can't control the content of concerts, and initiating new noise standards could have an impact beyond concerts, as any new noise standards could potentially affect Lagoon, the city's largest employer.

Forbush said city staff will review the issue and may bring recommendations to the city council for review.

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