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Midtown Neighbors Association votes down 2014 Music Midtown application

By Maria Saporta

The Midtown Neighbors Association, the community most impacted by major events in Piedmont Park, has voted down the Music Midtown 2014 event plan and application.

The neighborhood association voted down the application at its board meeting on July 31 “due to safety, logistics, Piedmont Park wear/tear, and noise issues,” according to MNA board member Dana Persons, who wrote a post in the Next Door – Midtown East online network.

The neighborhood had been in discussions with the promoters of Music Midtown to try to come up with solutions to address some of its concerns.

Persons urged residents of the neighborhood to share their opinions with city leaders and to come to the NPU-E meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Peachtree Christian Church at 1580 Peachtree St. N.E.

“The Music Midtown Festival is coming to Piedmont Park on September 19 and 20, 2014. 85,000 (2-day) tickets are on sale for the event and the AJC is projecting that up to a quarter million people will be visiting our neighborhood,” Persons wrote. “The City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Police Department, and Live Nation will be closing 19th Street and part of Charles Allen to host this private, gated event in our beautiful public Piedmont Park.”

She went on to say that the neighborhood association was concerned about the plans for traffic flow during the event.

“All traffic is proposed to be diverted off 10th Street and detoured onto 8th St. and Myrtle St. for the two-day event. This means that traffic for an anticipated quarter of a million people will be directed right past your house on that weekend,” she wrote her neighbors who are part of Next Door.

“As many of you know, it is already difficult to support two-way traffic on 8th Street and most residents that live on the street rely on street parking. Numerous safety and parking issues are anticipated,” she added.

From the tone of her note, it did seem as though Persons and the neighborhood association recognized that opposing Music Midtown would be an uphill battle politically.

“Please email or call your Mayor and Council members to express your personal concerns about this event and/or attend the NPU meeting this Tuesday,” she wrote, including the phone numbers and email addresses of Mayor Kasim Reed as well as the three at-large Council Members — Mary Norwood, Michael Julian Bond and Andre Dickens — as well as the two district council members who represent the area — Kwanza Hall and Alex Wan.

Before the board meeting, Persons had sent out this alert to the community:

REMINDER: Please note that Music Midtown’s Festival application will be heard by MNA’s License/Permits Committee this Wed, July 30, 6:30 pm @ Jason’s Deli (upstairs).

Music Midtown will come up for a vote/recommendation this Thurs, July 31, 6:30 pm @ Jason’s Deli (upstairs) at the MNA meeting. You may attend either meeting or write [email protected] (cc: [email protected] and [email protected]) with any further comments.

The City was presented with Midtown’s safety and logistics concerns and suggestions for improvement for Music Midtown 2014. Please see responses from the city and from APD’s Maj. Whitmire on the following link. Disappointing.


Here are some of the more interesting records from Music Midtown 2013, for some history.


Please note the following:

1. 2013 was permitted for 160K people, 3 stages, 1.5 days.

2. Live Nation paid the city $400K (have not seen where this money was allocated).

3. Live Nation hired and paid the Piedmont Park Conservancy $100K for consulting services.

4. 21 people in PPC are new (replaced?) and G. Dusenbury (Commissioner of parks) recently stepped down leaving quite a void of working history with this growing event.

5. Limits are in place for Oak Hill per letter (included in link) from Commissioner Dusenbury, however MM2014 will use Oak Hill in full.

6. Still awaiting records from Oct. 17, 2013 debrief, and actual ticket sales numbers and attendance.

Dana Persons

Block Captain

Midtown Neighborhood Watch

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. Susan Roe August 4, 2014 9:55 am

    Midtown is not equiped thru infrastructure to handle thia type of event. I love live music but it would be better placed someplace like Ft. Mac. The wear and tear on our park lawns is too heavy.Report

  2. SaportaReport August 4, 2014 10:08 am

    Thanks for reading Susan Roe. Do you live in the area?Report

  3. Susan Roe August 4, 2014 10:20 am

    I live downtown, but see similar damage to COP. We however don’t experience street closures for eventsReport

  4. Chris August 4, 2014 7:59 pm

    I live in the area and I can attest to both the damage the event caused to the park, as well as the excessive noise and traffic the neighborhood has to deal with. No other event in the park has as negative an impact as Music Midtown.Report

  5. ShaneSanders August 5, 2014 8:05 am

    In the “100K to PPC consulting 9-18-13” document you provided, Doug Voss only states that PPC “submitted a $100,000 invoice to Live Nation to serve as consultants ” but how do we know they ever received that money? I volunteer at the Conservancy and from all the conversations I’ve had with people who work there, they’re under the impression that PPC has received no donations or income of any kind from Music Midtown. Have you been able to find any documentation to show that they received the $100K or any other payments from Music Midtown organizers?  Thanks for all the great work here.Report

  6. Steven D August 5, 2014 8:58 am

    I live in Midtown and fully support Music Midtown. It’s a fantastic event that brings a lot of people together. Yes it causes a headache with traffic and damage to the park, but so do dozens of other huge events. I don’t see anyone protesting the Peachtree Road Race, the Dogwood Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, etc.
    What’s the point of having such an awesome place like Piedmont Park if we don’t use it?Report

  7. Steven D August 5, 2014 9:04 am

    I disagree about the infrastructure. Midtown (and downtown) has the *best* infrastructure in the entire region to handle this type of event. Two MARTA subway stations are within walking distance. There are several bus routes that serve the immediate area, and a free shuttle from Atlantic Station (which has a giant parking deck). There is direct highway access from 75/85, and a gridded street network. There’s a large parking garage at the botanical gardens. Tens of thousands of people already live withing walking distance, and can easily walk to Piedmont Park. The Beltline Eastside Trail provides bike and pedestrian access to the event from the Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, and other neighborhoods.
    With the wear and tear on the lawn, you have a good point; but I just don’t see how you can say Midtown doesn’t have the “infrastructure” to handle large events.Report

  8. Tom K August 5, 2014 12:17 pm

    I live in Virginia Highland 12 houses away from Piedmont Park.   I enjoy large events and festivals at the park.

    But let’s be clear; MusicMidtown consistently damages Piedmont Park much more than any other large event.  It’s not close.  The Meadow has been in a state of decline since the first Music Midtown.  Parts of Oak Hill were fenced off for four months after last year’s event because it’s not the right type of soil below the sod to handle stages and crowds.   18 wheelers get pulled right on to the lawn and across tree roots with little concern for the long term health of the landscape and trees, with no one from the City Parks Dept there to supervise any of this.   MM also happens at the end of the growing season (and busy Fall fesitval season in the park) so it’s harder for the park’s damaged landscape to bounce back.    

    The Green Concerts, with 1-2 major acts like the Allman Brothers and Dave Mathews Band, for 2-5 hours of music (and about 60,000 people) was the appropriate size event for the park.   And those events actually raised money for the park, unlike the for profit / private event like Music Midtown.  

    The scale of the first year of Music Midtown, if they would be willing to take more precautions to protect the park itself, is about the appropriate size for the Piedmont Park.Report

  9. Think August 5, 2014 2:17 pm

    We need stop renting out out public parks to these for profit vendors. These are public spaces not intended to be used as concert venues. At least the Atlanta Jazz Festival is free to attend like all the other festivals in the park. A for profit festival should not be allowed to take over and damage our public parks and charge admission. So there are many problems with Music Midtown and it needs to find a new home on private land.Report

  10. Mark August 5, 2014 3:04 pm

    Everyone keep in mind that when Kasim Reed was a lawyer at the law firm of Holland & Knight, his biggest and basically only client was Live Nation, who is the promoter of Music Midtown.  As a result, Live Nation gets Piedmont Park for peanuts, can basically do whatever they want to it, and you will not be able to stop them.Report


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