Christine Plunkett, president ofBurlington College, says she received three sets of complaints aboutnoise resonating far from the Precipice site on the school's grounds."We learned a lesson," the educator acknowledges. ButPlunkett still gives the Precipice two thumbs up — way up — and saysthe college is "absolutely open" to hosting other concerts.
A Friday afternoon sound check hadindicated music, playing on four stages on a ridge above Lake Champlain, could not be heard at all on North Avenue, Plunkett recounts. Thebowl shape of the open land west of the college's main buildingapparently prevents sound from carrying to nearby homes, she notes.The president adds that she visited several nearby homes prior to theevent to inform residents about the festival, leaving them with hercellphone number in case of problems.
The lesson she learned, Plunkettexplains, is that "sound travels really far on the lake."
One complaint came from a guard at theNorth Beach campground, about half a mile from the venue, who toldher that a few unhappy campers checked out because of late-nightnoise from the Precipice. A second person called from a North Avenue homenear Burlington High School. The other complaint came from a womanwho lives near the Ethan Allen shopping center — about 1.5 milesfrom the college. For sound to carry that far along the water seemsremarkable, since it would have to bend around Rock Point, which jutsseveral 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 weresupposed to end at 9 p.m. but actually continued well past that hour,adds Plunkett, who says she was boogieing at Precipice all threenights.
"We were thrilled in every way,"she declares. "We loved it. We would definitely host it again."
Plunkett gives props to Radio Beanowner Lee Anderson, who helped to organize the Precipice. "He was fantastic towork with, very collaborative," she says. The college let Precipice use the property free of charge.
In addition to welcoming more music tothe 35-acre property, Plunkett says the college intends to open thecampus to other events, such as weddings, a winter carnival and anOktoberfest. Those plans reflect Burlington College's "communitymission — being open to the public," Plunkett notes.
The meadow where the Precipice took placewill also remain open, the president assures. Homes and otherstructures the college hopes to build will be situated to the southof the former Catholic diocese headquarters and will not impinge onthe long, broad slope leading toward the lake, Plunkett notes.
A summer movie series will be movedonto 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 youlike 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.