BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos County officials have been meeting to discuss the potential impacts of large crowds expected to attend the Los Alamos Summer Concert Series which kicks off Friday, May 24. The first concert will feature Baracutanga a seven-piece band representing Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and USA.
At the May 7 Los Alamos County Council meeting, County Manager Harry Burgess said he knows the 15-concert lineup has caused some concern given the magnitude of the particular acts coming forward. He said the County’s Community Services Department is in consultation with other departments to address some prospective needs for the large crowds, particularly parking and directing folks both to parking and to Ashley Pond Park where the concerts are held.
Councilor Randy Ryti asked Burgess what numbers are expected at the various events and what kinds of things the County might do to get ready for that large a crowd.
“We are figuring out the specifics, however due primarily to experience with this promoter in other communities with large concert acts , we’re estimating as many as 10,000 people for the second concert of the series at the end of the month,” he said. Performing at that concert will be Big Head Todd And The Monsters, a platinum record power trio with roots from Colorado.
Burgess said with this many people coming to town the County is anticipating everything from additional demands upon bathrooms to parking and public safety concerns.
“We are currently engaging various departments involved in those activities primarily through or coordinated by Community Services to do our best to be prepared for those issues. One of the biggest things we’re anticipating is folks who may not have been to Los Alamos before, coming up and attempting to find a parking spot near the venue at five minutes to six. So, we’re looking at the potential for signage and other types of things that have not been employed yet, particularly as we’re just beginning the wayfinding implementation,” he said. “All of those issues will be considered and if there are others that Council is particularly concerned about we’re open to those suggestions as well. We’re working with the vendor using some of their information to guide us however this is a new realm for our staff and we’re trying to cover all those bases.”
Councilor Ryti said the Atomic City Transit buses that run for the concerts would be a great resource for people to be aware of.
“There’s a lot more capacity on the buses than we have ridership. We need to let people know in advance what the alternatives are and figure out parking alternatives,” he said.
Burgess said last year End DWI-funded buses were provided on concert nights and that the County intends to expand and alter the schedules to accommodate some of the people attending the concerts.
Councilor David Izraelevitz said he knows there are a lot of uncertainties about the concerts and there are a lot of resources the County can bring.
“Ten thousand people is a scary number,” he said. He asked if the Los Alamos Fire Marshal has a certain upper limit on the capacity for the venue access and emergency access.
Burgess responded that that subject has come up, not just for the concert series but also for general gatherings, with the change in fire marshals at LAFD.
“New people come in they look at things in a different perspective. Our newest fire marshal is considering these public gatherings and how we actually do our inspections of those to ensure ingress and egress, fire safety and the like,” he said.
He said County staff were meeting to discuss all events but particularly the immediate needs for the upcoming concert events.
“There have been some initial conversations about our farmers market and how this may affect some of the issues there because clearly it’s confined space with lots of people in there and once we get to thresholds -50 people is one threshold and 500 is another – it invokes additional regulations, so we’re looking at that at present”, Burgess said.