Hangout Music Festival receives preliminary approval

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The Hangout Music Festival received preliminary approval for a public assembly permit during the regular Gulf Shores City Council meeting Feb. 10.

Due to citizen and business complaints and concerns in the past, the city has required The Hangout Music Festival meet additional requirements by April 4. Some of the additional required items include:

• Satisfactory Safety & Security Plan approved by the City in its absolute and indisputable discretion.

• Steps and procedures to be implemented for noise or vibration controls

• Written Sea Turtle Protection Protocols acceptable to the City to include light control of site and vehicles operating at night, fence management and beach activation daily setup/break down procedures to eliminate the disorientation of federally protected nesting sea turtles

• Traffic Control Plan acceptable to City

Festival organizers intend to utilize ambassadors to help address the issues that impact residents of Gulf Shores who live in close proximity to the festival site. They are tasked with helping to control and eliminate: overnight and illegal parking, lewd and obscene behavior, and noise and vulgarity from the festival site bleeding into neighboring areas.

The Ambassadors will wear uniforms that identify them as festival employees and will have the ability to communicate with the festival command center to report issues. The intent is for the ambassadors to work as a first line to prevent illegal parking and lewd or obscene behavior from impacting the surrounding neighborhoods.

The festival dates for this year are May 15-18 and staging will begin April 27. The site will return to normal May 21, according to the timeline provided by The Hangout Festival. The Gulf Place beach area will be open to the public until May 10 and remains closed to the public through May 21.

During the comment and discussion period, Mayor Robert Craft spoke to the council and those in attendance.

“This is a chance for them to prove to us they can operate this with less of a negative impact on our community. Future festivals going forward is predicated on having a successful festival,” he said. “I think everyone understands what we are trying to address and make sure we don’t have the problems we had last year specifically. So, everyone understands that, and I want the public to understand it too that this is a very important opportunity for us to see if we can operate this in the right way so it can be extended or canceled. One of the two.”

Councilman Gary Sinak added, “I think there has been good progress in addressing the concerns we heard and a renewed shared vision on where we are trying to go with this and a realization that there has to be significant improvement mitigating those issues.”

Councilman Joe Garris said, “I just hope the ambassador program works. From what I have seen and what’s been presented I would much prefer to have police or Gulf Shores finest involved more in that than what’s planned. We will see how it works. I am not completely confident in it, but we will see.”

The mayor asked Police Chief Edward Delmore to clarify the Gulf Shores police involvement with the Hangout Music Festival.

“Mr. Garris to address your concerns, it is our intent to have additional police officers outside the venue working to a degree with the ambassadors with things that are beyond their capabilities. In doing so, we are going to be bringing in other area officers from different agencies that we have vetted to work inside the venue during the concerts. There will be a significantly larger presence of Gulf Shores police officers outside jurisdiction of the concert,” Delmore said.

Festival organizers have until April 4 to fulfill the remaining requirements. The city has the right to revoke the permit if the requirements are not met to their satisfaction. The Hangout Music Festival is currently listed as sold out on the festival website.