By Robert J. Silver
Could it really be that difficult to comprehend? Friends of Kit Carson Park do indeed oppose the transformation of this cherished Taos community asset to a rock concert venue. It’s a matter of public record. Yet, the basis for the Friends’ opposition has been persistently distorted. One wonders if adversaries are not listening, or are willfully misrepresenting the Friends’ position.
Let’s be clear about the issues. Friends of the Park are not opposed to events that are large (8,000-10,000 people), loud (120 Db + sound levels) and late (beyond 10 p.m.). Rather, they specifically and exclusively oppose such events when, and only when, they are staged in Kit Carson Park. The Friends do not believe such events fit our compact Historic District’s close confines. Moreover, the Friends contend that such events easily qualify as prohibited public nuisance under New Mexico law. Could the Friends’ stance be any more straightforward?
Why then, has the Friends’ position been so misstated? And what of the pernicious effect that such disinformation may be having on the quality of our community conversation? Let’s consider a few examples of confused communications that may well be with us.
Some rationales for staging these events defy logic. Vocal champions of large park concerts assert that they foster diverse multiuse, appealing to varied demographic populations, cultures and communities. Yet, direct experience tells us that the opposite is the case.
In reality, large rock concerts are anathema to park multiuse diversity. Indeed, they are the bullying proverbial “800-pound gorilla in the room,” elbowing aside, crowding out and trumping anything else that might seek a share of our public park space. There is no organized opposition to diverse, multiuse park programming. Large rock concerts are simply not a path to this goal. They are its antithesis.
An associated equally false narrative is that the Friends want to dictate specific events to be permitted in Kit Carson Park. Again, the near opposite is true. The Friends wish only to specify the type of event that should not be allowed in the park (i.e., large, loud, late rock concerts).
And then there is the dearth of demonstrable data confirming the economic benefit of these concerts to Taos. Proponents of transforming the park to rock concert stage venue trumpet the financial benefit claim based on faith alone. These true believers point anecdotally to tourists lured to town and conclude that this inevitably results in increased gross revenue tax receipts.
Well, show us the money. Despite considerable effort, following the money has proven extremely difficult.
Are concert advocates completely unaware of potential visitors (people actually likely to patronize Taos businesses and generate gross receipts tax) who are repelled by the prospect of encountering large, loud, late Historic District events? Are they similarly unaware of local business patrons like me who temporarily leave town to avoid these events, and who then spend money and produce tax revenues elsewhere?
And what about our mayor’s continued cheerleading for his administration’s wrongheaded park transformation initiative? He voices no concern as to the town’s repeated disregard of its own policies, rules, regulations and ordinances. Instead, he offers longwinded, self-aggrandizing, self-congratulatory, self- pitying soliloquies. Indeed, he recently declared that the Kit Carson Park concerts have “put Taos on the map.” Perhaps someone should inform our misguided long-suffering mayor that Taos was on the map long before large rock concerts were ever scheduled here.
Then, too, there is the mayor’s absurd assertion that big-name big-concert events deserve our support because they will bring our adult children back to Taos. He argues that such events would give them something to do here. Does he really believe that competent adults are going to relocate back to Taos simply because Taos may, from time to time, host big-time entertainment? More of our mayor’s bread and circus governing philosophy? The mayor’s assertion wouLd be laughable, if it were not so very sad. Teenagers, you see, may very well lament that there is nothing to do in Taos. Sentient adults recognize full well the richness that surrounds us.
Ultimately, the message of Friends of Kit Carson Park may not be so difficult to hear… if one is listening and filters out adversaries’ noise. It is simply that there should be no large, loud, late concerts in Kit Carson Park.
Robert Silver lives in Taos and is a Friend of Kit Carson Park.