ROCKPORT — On April 16 the Rockport Select Board unanimously approved a proposal which would allow small musical concerts to be held in Mary Lea Park over the coming summer. The idea was brought before the board by members of the town’s Parks and Beautification Committee, represented at the meeting by committee member Doug Cole.
Cole said the Parks Committee had been considering using Mary Lea Park on Central Street as a possible concert venue for some time, and through talking to other Rockport residents, local music schools and contacting organizations such as Bay Chamber Concerts, realized that there was a great deal of interest in bringing musical performances to the site.
“The idea would be that on Sunday afternoons from the middle of June through July until the end of August, to just have very informal concerts at the park at about 4 p.m. lasting for about an hour. These will be local amateur musicians – one, two or three people at a time– some will be kids, others will be adults, and the idea is can just bring a blanket or a [folding chair] and set it up during the performance,” said Cole.
Cole said the committee chose Sunday afternoons for the concerts because delivery truck traffic would be minimized, and that it would be a “down time” for construction on the nearby Rockport Harbor Hotel at 20 Central St. He said that some advertising of performances would be done through local newspapers and media outlets, but most likely a wooden “sandwich board” would be placed on the sidewalk above the park announcing upcoming events.
Cole said that the project would essentially run without any operating costs, as most of the musicians own their own equipment and amplifiers; he suggested that Public Works could bring some panels of plywood to level-out the hillside park’s ‘stage area,’ but otherwise the site was ready.
“I think it’s a great proposal, it will be fun to have something happening as you walk through town. And even if people choose not to sit there, they might stand up on the sidewalk and just listen as well,” said board member Denise Kennedy-Munger.
Established in 1966, Mary Lea Park is located along Central St. between the Rockport Opera House and the Shepard Building which houses businesses such as the restaurant 18 Central. According to the proposal submitted to the Select Board, the park was was established with a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior which stipulated that the park would be used occasionally for outdoor concerts.
At their meeting the Select Board also approved sidewalk dining this summer at Nina June restaurant, also located on Central St. The next meeting of Rockport Select Board will be held Monday, May 10, at 4:30 p.m.