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Alpine Valley proposes turning a parking lot into overnight camping

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Darryl Enriquez
November 9, 2010
— Alpine Valley Music Theatre next summer wants to convert a parking lot into a campground for up to 450 concertgoers, but the proposal must be approved by the town and county, David J. Shaw, the theater's general manager, said Monday.

Sheriff David Graves said that if the campground is approved, his office would need to increase security patrols, meaning theater officials could expect to pay more for sheriff's security.


The up side, Graves said, is that fewer tickets would be sold per concert because less parking would be available if one of the theater's four lots is used for camping. That would mean fewer fans on the grounds.


The LaFayette Town Plan Commission is scheduled to hear the proposal Wednesday, Dec. 1. The town board will consider the matter Wednesday, Dec. 8, provided commissioners send an up or down vote to the board. The proposal must be approved by the county.


Residents say the venue already is too large and out of control. They questioned how a 24-hour camping party could be controlled.


Alpine officials want to use the green lot, about a quarter mile east of the ticket gates, as the area for 75 campsites. Each site would be 4,096 square feet and limited to a maximum of six people each. Barefoot walking and fires will not be allowed.


The green lot parks 2,000 cars. If it is converted to a campground, that number of carsóeach containing an average of 3.3 fansówould not be allowed into the theater, Graves said.


Shaw was unsure how many times the campground would be used. Its use would be for fans who wanted to see multiple performances of an entertainer doing weekend shows. The lineup for 2011 is not yet set, he said.


"We think it's important to offer more amenities to fans," Shaw said. "We're trying to make the theater more of a one-stop place."


The campground would have toilets, hand washing stations, lighting, drinking water, a security station and a general store, Shaw said.


The plan calls for a self-contained campground that would decrease traffic in and out of the theater, he said. Camping would begin at noon the day of the show and end at noon the day after the show. Campers would pay costs above ticket prices to use the campground, he said.


"We certainly have some concerns," Graves said. "There's good and bad things about it. It certainly lessens the traffic on roads. Our concern is the number of campsites and how many people will be allowed at a campsite."


At a public hearing last week, residents from the towns of LaFayette, Troy and Spring Prairie voiced their worries.


They were concerned about policing of the campground and noise and light keeping neighbors awake. Several speakers expressed disappointed that no one from the theater stopped at their homes to talk about the proposal.


Other qualms include the theater erecting permanent campground structures; loss of crops from concert goers using adjacent fields as sanitation stations, trampling crops and leaving behind toilet paper; and attendees tossing cigarettes out vehicle windows, possibly causing fires.


Shaw said the campground is meant only for next season, and theater officials would evaluate whether to reopen the site for following concert seasons.



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