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August 01, 2013

Post-Precipice, Burlington College Exclaims, 'More! More!'



Last weekend's Precipice music fest got raves from many in attendance (including Seven Days' Dan Bolles), but the local bands' sound was not music to the ears of at least a few neighbors.

Christine Plunkett, president of Burlington College, says she received three sets of complaints about noise resonating far from the Precipice site on the school's grounds. "We learned a lesson," the educator acknowledges. But Plunkett still gives the Precipice two thumbs up — way up — and says the college is "absolutely open" to hosting other concerts.

A Friday afternoon sound check had indicated music, playing on four stages on a ridge above Lake Champlain, could not be heard at all on North Avenue, Plunkett recounts. The bowl shape of the open land west of the college's main building apparently prevents sound from carrying to nearby homes, she notes. The president adds that she visited several nearby homes prior to the event to inform residents about the festival, leaving them with her cellphone number in case of problems.

The lesson she learned, Plunkett explains, is that "sound travels really far on the lake."

One complaint came from a guard at the North Beach campground, about half a mile from the venue, who told her that a few unhappy campers checked out because of late-night noise from the Precipice. A second person called from a North Avenue home near Burlington High School. The other complaint came from a woman who lives near the Ethan Allen shopping center — about 1.5 miles from the college. For sound to carry that far along the water seems remarkable, since it would have to bend around Rock Point, which juts several hundred yards into the lake.

A possible remedy, Plunkett suggests, is to end shows earlier than 2 a.m., which was shutdown time for the Precipice early Saturday and Sunday. The final day's shows were supposed to end at 9 p.m. but actually continued well past that hour, adds Plunkett, who says she was boogieing at Precipice all three nights.

"We were thrilled in every way," she declares. "We loved it. We would definitely host it again."

Plunkett gives props to Radio Bean owner Lee Anderson, who helped to organize the Precipice. "He was fantastic to work with, very collaborative," she says. The college let Precipice use the property free of charge.

In addition to welcoming more music to the 35-acre property, Plunkett says the college intends to open the campus to other events, such as weddings, a winter carnival and an Oktoberfest. Those plans reflect Burlington College's "community mission — being open to the public," Plunkett notes.

The meadow where the Precipice took place will also remain open, the president assures. Homes and other structures the college hopes to build will be situated to the south of the former Catholic diocese headquarters and will not impinge on the long, broad slope leading toward the lake, Plunkett notes.

A summer movie series will be moved onto the open space next year in response to some neighbors' objections to its current site — a big white tent on North Avenue. Plunkett says one nearby homeowner asked her, "How would you like to live across the street from a circus tent?"



Higher Ground co-owner Kevin Statesir responded to a phone call after this post was published, answering a query about his company's interest in potentially booking music at the site. Higher Ground books several festivals and music series outside of the club, including the Ben & Jerry's Festival on the Green at Shelburne Museum. He replied:


Higher Ground would love to do some events there. I think it's a perfect spot for many reasons  and we could help Burlington College raise some revenue towards its future. I will be discussing this with my business partner Alex Crothers soon.


Photo of Ryan Power performing at the Precipice by Dan Bolles.


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