East Providence Waterfront Commission approves use of land for live entertainment venue

Site at Bold Point is being considered

EastBayRI.com ·

EAST PROVIDENCE — As temperatures turn colder and winter approaches it may be a bit of a stretch to conjure, but a live music venue could soon be coming to the city's shoreline during the summer months.

The East Providence Waterfront Commission at its most recent open public meeting in late October gave its unanimous approval for use of city-owned land at Bold Point for live entertainment purposes beginning in May of 2017.

Acting commission chairman Bill Fazioli confirmed the body's decision during an interview last week. Mr. Fazioli said Rhode Island-based Waterfront Productions LLC in conjunction with Live Nation, an international concert promotions company, recently inquired about the availability of the property and made a presentation to the commission at its October 27 meeting.

Of the commission's vote to approve, Mr. Fazioli said, "We were of the opinion it would good for the city. Having a venue like this will bring people who have never been in East Providence here and they will see get a chance to experience the city and discover the quality of life on the waterfront."

Waterfront Productions has been seeking a new home for its schedule of concerts and like events since the Newport Yachting Center property was sold and was closed to use in 2014. In recent years, the company continued what it calls "legacy" events like The Great Chowder Cook-Off at another location, moved its Waterfront Reggae Festival to neighboring India Point Park in Providence and also utilized the Alex & Ani Skating Rink at Kennedy Plaza in the capital city.

In seeking to secure the Bold Point property in city, Waterfront Productions is proposing the construction of a temporary 132-foot by 180-foot stage and seating for up to 3,500 patrons. Parking for approximately 1,000 cars will also be made available. The venue, including portable restrooms as well as food and beverage stations, would be up and operational from May to October. It would not be a permanent structure. The company is proposing a schedule of between 20 and 30 events during its first season.

"They've done traffic studies, looked at the parking. They're working with the chiefs of the police and fire departments. Both chiefs (EPPD Chief Chris Parella and EPFD Chief Oscar Elmasian) said they could work with them on traffic patterns and parking. The impact of people who live in the area is being considered," Mr. Fazioli said, adding for the moment at least it appears the owners and residents of the Tockwotton Home adjacent to the Bold Point property, among other neighbors, are on board with the proposal.

In giving its approval, the commission instituted a host of guidelines, including a curfew of 11 p.m. for weekend events. Mr. Fazioli said the stage will be positioned facing west down the Seekonk River toward the tip of Narragansett Bay to keep sound disturbance to a minimum. In addition and according to a dictate from the State Department of Environmental Management, a public launch at the site will remain accessible to boaters.

"There are a lot of stipulations. They're subject to parking and traffic control. The building inspector needs to approve the structure. There are licenses and permits they need to obtain. And they must agree on a lease with the council because the city will still own the land," Mr. Fazioli said. No tax incentives at this time are included in the arrangement, he continued, and the city would derive revenue from the lease agreement.

An item under "presentations" is on the agenda for the council's Tuesday, Nov. 15, meeting. Open session starts at 7:30 p.m.

Mr. Fazioli added the use of land at the city's waterfront for a music or entertainment venue "was always" an element of the commission's plan since its inception some 12 years ago. He said the music center would compliment the existing Comedy Connection and the soon-to-be erected sculpture park at the base of nearby Warren Avenue as part of turning the area into the city's "Arts District."

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