Sep 042010
 

By Walker Davidison

Weddstock – The “Free” Concert Series

Early this summer, a group of people including Weddington Mayor Nancy Anderson, decided to host a “free” concert series called “Weddstock.”

Mayor Anderson volunteered to provide the location for the concert series at her business called Hunter Farm. Hunter Farm is her agri-tourism business that sells strawberries, Christmas trees, and pumpkins. Holding Weddstock at Hunter Farm is a good way to promote the business given that Weddstock could attract hundreds of people to the farm who may return in the future as paying customers.

Kids First of the Carolinas offered to provide volunteers for the event. Kids First is a local charity that does a great job of organizing charitable events.

Kids First also agreed to raise the $18,000 in capital for the production and promotion costs of the event through private donations with the exception of a request for $2,000 from the town (a.k.a. the Weddington taxpayer).

At this point I was fine with everything this group was doing, except for the $2,000 from the taxpayer. I don’t consider music festivals to be part of the town’s “essential services.” However, as the Weddstock project progressed more taxpayer money was spent, corners were cut with town council procedures, and people were left confused about the purpose of the events.

The planning of the Weddstock project was rushed. For some reason this concert series was deemed necessary and urgent. There were a lot of obstacles to overcome in a short period of time. Mayor Anderson was determined to make it work. She used her position as mayor and her skills of persuasion to “fast track” the project. She also did a very good job of creating a difficult political situation for the town council.

No financial statements were submitted to the town council regarding Weddstock. Apparently the council felt that its responsibility to provide free music festivals was greater than its fiduciary responsibility.

First Mayor Anderson called a special meeting of the town council. She needed to get approval from the council to allow the sale of alcohol at Weddstock, so that Kids First could raise money by selling beer and wine at the events. She needed approval to have the town buy more liability insurance in case the town was sued over an alcohol related issue. She also needed the council to approve the $2,000 from the town. The $2,000 actually came out of the Parks and Recreation budget, but the Parks and Recreation Committee was never given the opportunity to vote on the matter.

Council members Barry and Gilmartin supported Mayor Anderson’s requests. Council members McKee and Thomisser voted no. Mayor Anderson broke the tie, and everything was granted. No one on the council proposed that the mayor recuse herself from the vote. Does requesting $2,000 of taxpayer money for a project which could help promote the mayor’s private business qualify as a conflict of interest? I think it at least warrants discussion by the council.

It has also been the practice of the council in the past to require financial statements before an organization receives town money. This was the case with Wesley Chapel-Weddington Athletic Association and the Providence Fire Department. No financial statements were submitted to the town council regarding Weddstock. Apparently the council felt that its responsibility to provide free music festivals was greater than its fiduciary responsibility.

After the first Weddstock event was held, the organizers discovered that the citizens who attended the event did not buy enough alcohol to cover the costs of the event. So, as with many failed business plans these days, the taxpayer was asked to give more. In this case, $3,000 more. When the request for the additional $3,000 came in, Mayor Anderson was out of town. The responsibility fell to Mayor Pro Tem Dan Barry. Dan Barry did not bother to have a special meeting. He simply made phone calls to the other council members to get their approval to give the additional $3,000. He got their approval and the check was sent. No financial statements were submitted to the town council.

After the second Weddstock event, organizers disclosed that Weddington citizens were still not buying enough alcohol at the event to cover the expenses and that two pledges from private donors had been withdrawn. Now the organizers wanted another $6,000.

To be continued…

Facebook Comments

comments

  9 Responses to “Weddington’s WeddStock – Where ‘good’ intentions justify any cost!”

  1. Clearly, if you want to sell lots of booze at a gathering, you need to be doing it in Waxhaw! LOL !

    Too soon? :grin:

  2. Since, when, dose this council think that they can freely spend tax dollars. If the parks committee questions spending $500.00 at Weddington High School, by the town attorney. What make’s the town council all knowing. Just another example of the town’s Mayor thinking she is all powerful and no one has the right to question her about spending tax dollars or anything else.

    Time for a change.

  3. I am increasingly disgusted that our mayor spends our tax dollars on projects that benefit HER personally. She supports a ‘core Weddington’ along Hwy 16 because it will enhance her property usage or value. She pushed for a connector road ‘to her property’ on Weddington-Matthews road, even requesting town funds to help DOT: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/597/story/841233.html
    And now Weddstock. And now Weddstock. I didn’t go, I haven’t been anywhere near her farm since Pumpkin patch 2 years ago, when our wagon of kids were rushed out of the petting barn after 3 minutes, so another load could come in (this wasn’t free you know). AND has anyone noticed that the a mysterious crossover on Hwy 16 between Hemby and Hwy 84 “that goes nowhere” right now, is actually infront of her property??? Why didn’t the DOT just put an access to the existing and busy Weddington Activity Center a few yards away. DOT had argued they didn’t want ANYTHING slowing down their newly 4-laned Hwy 16, yet there is the turnaround in front of the mayors property.
    WHEN it’s time to vote for mayor again, I hope we can get our act together and run ONE candidate against her. The 3 that ran against her last time collectively had an overwhelming victory, but that won’t work.

  4. What was the mayor thinking selling booze at a charity event for kids

  5. Mrs. Pincus,

    You clearly hold me in great disdain. That’s your right. However, you do not have the right to publish factually untrue statements, while claiming them to be true.

    Weddstock was originally planned as a town sponsored event, but evolved into a partnership with a local charity, “Kids First”, in order to capitalize on their non-profit status. According to town surveys, the citizens of Weddington want a place to gather…. and a reason to gather. Weddington has no park facilities. Period. Event organizers came to me and asked to have the events on my farm. I agreed, because I have supported several “Kids First” events and knew the Board members to be professional and trustworthy. They will be giving a full report to the town council at our Sept meeting. I personally invite you to come.

    Regarding your comments on the Providence Road widening project, please look at the map before making assumptions. THERE IS NO MEDIAN CUT, CONNECTOR ROAD, OR MYSTERIOUS CROSSOVER INTO THE HUNTER FARM OR ANY PROPERTY OWNED BY MYSELF OR MEMBERS OF MY FAMILY, regardless of what was reported in the newspaper article you cited. These claims were not true then, and they are not true now. The previous Weddington Town Council unanimously agreed I had no conflict of interest re: the proposed connector road.

    I refer you to Jordan Cook, Weddington town planner for a map and construction drawings. What you apparently believe is part of the farm, is in fact NOT! Please get your facts straight, then we can have a conversation. As for the mysterious crossover on Providence between 84 and Hemby, you are again wrong. NCDOT, allowed one median cut along this approx one mile stretch. At the suggestion of Dorine Sharpe, Chairman of the Planning Board, it was decided to place it at the EXISTING emergency entrance of the Highgate subdivision. Again, NOT my property. This allows emergency vehicles traveling northbound on Providence to enter directly into Phase 3 of the Highgate subdivision, greatly decreasing their response times. Short response times are directly related to positive outcomes during emergency situations.

    Sorry it offends you that I have property along Providence Road, but it is what it is. My children are fifth generation on this farm; my family has been here since the late 1860′s. No special treatment has been afforded to me during the widening project. In fact, just the opposite has occurred. In addition to the disruption caused by construction, we moved our driveway, at our own expense, because our access to Weddington Corners was blocked. Question my decision making and policies, I’ll openly debate you. Question my integrity and I will fight back.

    Nancy D. Anderson, Mayor Town of Weddington and
    proud owner of the HUNTER FARM

  6. I rode down 16 today (I usually avoid it, turning off on Hemby) and I DO now see the emergency entrance to Highgate. And I am VERY pleased that the DOT added a well-deserved entrance to the Weddington Activity Center if one is coming south on 16. Good for them. The Charlotte Observer article was about a cut-through near the activity center to the Wed-Matthews road… it was certainly on the table until it was deemed unnecessary and not supported by the board. And I WILL try to make the town meeting. I am anxious to see how much Kids First was able to raise for children during the concerts. I know their fundraiser Soar was a big success, but I don’t know how much was raised for that event either. And, in case it’s useful, I’ll bring the survey results with me. Thanks.

  7. Phyllis,

    Thank you for your thoughtful remarks. I often describe the Providence Road widening project as the “poster-child” for how not to build a road. It was designed by the folks in Raleigh who admit that they were not even aware the shopping center was present when they did the original drawings. Luckily, with tremendous help from our Division level DOT staff, most of the problems have been addressed.

    The connector road cited in the Observer article was a remedy first proposed by Division Chief, Barry Moose. The median on 84, (which will be built within a few weeks) has no median cuts between Providence Road and Weddington Matthews Road, effectively making it a one way street. One way streets can be useful in urban settings, but in a community like Weddington, “going around the block” can mean a 5 mile detour. In order to provide access in all directions to the business owners, Mr. Moose, proposed a street to connect Weddington Matthews Road and Providence Road. Then, by connecting all the parking lots within the shopping area, customers would have the option of going in any direction, north, east, south or west.

    This is still the plan we are operating under. As you noted, the original design has been amended and DOT is constructing a full movement intersection into the Weddington Activity Center, (WAC). When all the parking areas are connected,(i.e., you can drive from the Harris Teeter to the WAC without going out onto Providence Road), or the WAC driveway is up-graded and cut through to Weddington Matthews Road, a traffic signal will be added. One of the additional benefits to having a signalized entrance will be to slow traffic along Providence Road as it moves through town. Speeding is already a major problem and will get worse when the orange barrels are finally gone.

    In the meantime, the town council has approved the conveyance of a temporary easement across the Town’s property for a driveway that will connect the Shopping Center directly to Weddington-Matthews Road. This temporary access will allow customers traveling east towards Wesley Chapel a much safer and more convenient option.

    Your Town Councils, and I use the plural because this process has extended over numerous terms, including my own, have worked hard to collaborate with NCDOT to fix a broken product. In addition to making design changes, we have a committee working with the landscaping section of DOT to upgrade from the standard grass medians. The project is scheduled for completion by Nov 15th, just in time to install fall landscaping and trees along the roadway. Sidewalks and decorative light posts will further enhance our traffic calming measures.

    One additional improvement, of which you may not be aware, is the re-location of Weddington Church Road. The current intersection of Weddington Church and Providence Road is too close to the intersection of 84 to allow for a second signal. By re-routing the road further south, behind the Family Life Center, it allows DOT to construct a full movement intersection with a signal. Unfortunately, this will not be complete by the Nov 15th deadline, but should follow close behind.

    Finally, NCDOT recognizes the predictable need for an upgrade to the intersection of 84 and Weddington Matthews Road. This will likely come in the form of a signal or traffic circle. Once the current project is completed, and the traffic pattern returns to normal, a more accurate analysis can be preformed to determine the feasibility and actual need for an up-grade.

    I hope you find this synopsis helpful. Please make use of your planner, Jordan Cook should you have any further concerns. I am also available by phone, which I much prefer over blogging.

    I share your enthusiasm for “KIDS FIRST” and am anxious to learn of their outcomes. Weddington is the home of many such organizations, including DRUMSTRONG, MARCH FORTH WITH HOPE, and as you mentioned SOAR. The people of Weddington give with grateful hearts.

    Nancy Anderson, Mayor
    Town of Weddington
    mayoranderson@townofweddington.com
    704-564-5897

  8. “Political Hobbyist vs. 8 Moms and a Farm”
    In the September 9th edition of the Union County Weekly, Walker Davidson wrote a scathing article politicizing what was simply a fun family event. Just ask the thousands of families that made Weddstock a success. As the 8 person committee who agreed to volunteer our entire summer to make this event a success, we are writing this to set the record straight.
    For many years the people of Weddington have asked the Town Council for a place to gather as a community. However, the town’s past attempts had never attracted more than 50 people. Through Parks & Recreation, an opportunity presented itself to form a committee with the energy and expertise to undertake this vision. Hence, Weddstock was born. Weddstock was a 4-part summer concert series where neighbors enjoyed live music, local food, and tons of kid’s fun, close to our homes. We solicited sponsors and in kind donations, Weddington schools’ sports teams, local businesses, organized hundreds of volunteers, and provided community service hours for students.
    Pulling off a successful first-time event as large in scale as Weddstock, as you can imagine, posed many challenges. Fortunately, one of the Parks and Recreation committee members has 20 years of experience organizing events for the charity, Kid’s First of the Carolinas. Thanks to the charity’s involvement, the town suddenly had an experienced event planner, countless volunteers, sponsors, donors, newspaper, radio and billboard contacts, entertainment connections, and more at their disposal. The $2750 the town contributed per event was a very small percentage of the actual costs. In fact, were it not for the generous support of the charity and all of its resources, the event would not have been possible.

    We hardly “fast tracked” our way through over 30 permits for sign placements, noise ordinances, site plans, waste systems management, county health dept, crowd control, county sheriff dept, state licensing approval, liability documentations and town council meetings over the course of 8 weeks. If anyone has gone through any permit approval processes for anything from building to dog licensing in Union County, you know how much has to be done. All the permits, approvals, and actions of the town council, were reviewed and approved by the town attorney.
    There were only two possible locations to host Weddstock. The area behind Town Hall was too small and Weddington Corner’s parking lot held little appeal. We jumped at the chance to use Nancy Anderson’s farm. Here was a venue that was not only available but provided a safe, beautiful setting for a family orientated community event. We are grateful for what Ms. Anderson, her son Eric, and her husband, Andy contributed to this project, which included hours stacking hay bales, moving wagons, procuring portajohns, providing flat beds for a stage, picking up trash, and mowing acres of grass. This amount of work seems to be disproportionate to sell a couple of extra pumpkins and strawberries. None of the 4000 community members that were on Nancy’s farm over the 4 weeks saw a “secret farm profit agenda”, because there was none.

    As a committee, we are confused by Walker Davidson’s article. One would infer from his article that he had opposed funding for “Weddstock.” Oddly, that is not what he presented at the Town Council meeting. We viewed him as an advocate for Weddstock and felt that his eloquent speech had been a “tipping point” for a positive vote from the Town Council. We thank him for his words of support.

    We have all spoken to hundreds of neighbors and community members who attended the event. They were thrilled that Weddstock showcased what Weddington stands for; family, community, schools, and local businesses. Everyone said that they cannot wait to come back next year. We look forward to having another great event in 2011, if not, you can thank Walker Davidson.

    -The 8 Moms of Weddstock – proud Weddington volunteers

  9. Sorry, you just do not get it. It is not Weddstock! It is a good event for Weddington. The Mayor has stated (Union Weekly Sept 10) it will not be held on her Farm next year.

    It is the funding….It is not the responsible of the Weddington Taxpayers to fund any charity events in Weddington or anyplace else.
    that is for any group not just Kids First.

    Tax dollars are to be spent for the betterment of the vast major of our citizens.

    Yes, I know how difficult the permitting process is….It is difficult for a reason. that is to give the issuers of the permits time to think about what they are doing. Anytime you rush into something most of the time you are wrong.

    The Town always (Has in the past) request a great deal of information before permits are issued. That did not happen this time… That is wrong.

    You can justify any way you wish..hours spent by the volunteers, the work the Anderson family spent setting the event up… all of that is good. even great..

    But do not spend taxpayers dollars on charity events of any kind.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.