During the upcoming Hangout Music Festival, organizers are proposing posting roving ambassadors through the nearby neighborhoods to help address concerns from residents.
Locals have complained that in the past few years many festivalgoers have parked illegally either in residents’ yards or along the narrow roadways just north of the beach as well as using the bathroom in yards. But the ambassadors won’t be policing or trying to confront any patrons they see exhibiting questionable behavior.
“The details of that are going to be part of this public assembly permit because that’s a big concern of ours,” Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft said. “And in coordination with the police. They will be instructed if they see something going on, they’ll contact the police and we’ll have someone be able to go help them if there’s a conflict of interest.”
Festival founder Shaul Zislin unveiled the ambassador program at a community meeting he called at Big Beach Brewing Company on Dec. 7.
“They sent out fliers specifically to people that are in the six- or seven-block neighborhood that surrounds what is used as the festival site,” Gulf Shores spokesman Grant Brown said. “The goal was to get the people that had concerns over some of the items the mayor and City Council are requesting the festival address and come up with a plan to mitigate some of those concerns in that core part of the city.”
Craft said at a previous council meeting many of these concerns have to be addressed before the city will issue the assembly permit for the 11th annual Hangout Festival scheduled May 15 – 17 at Gulf Place. The festival and the city have an agreement in place to host the event through 2025, but it also contains a yearly renewal clause so the city can address concerns. If the council and mayor aren’t satisfied Hangout is addressing those concerns, it can decline the assembly permit.
City officials also asked organizers to conduct public meetings like the one at the brewery on Dec. 7 to hear residents’ concerns. Another will be scheduled in January, David Zislin, Shaul’s brother, told the council at its Dec. 9 meeting.
“He’s going to advertise it for people that are concerned and don’t like it and limit it to that to where they’re not having proponents in there that are lobbying for it,” Craft said. “They’re trying to get the people that are not in favor of it to give them their issues so he can react to them.”
During the Dec. 9 meeting, Shaul Zislin started off with a PowerPoint presentation showing all the benefits of the festival to Gulf Shores and most in attendance had a favorable opinion of the event. Those against the festival were also allowed to speak.
“There were some residents that were willing to speak up and how the festival impacts them and their quality of life,” Brown said. “They did so in a way that the Hangout was able to hear and we believe they are going to address those concerns. That’s what they are being asked to do this year to show that they can positively affect some of those items.”
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