Local Questions And Concerns
Frequently asked questions by the community.
A lot of these questions pertain to what we will do in the future when we have a high attendance. Many of the things proposed here are not feasible with the small crowds we currently get. These are answers to the question of what if we expand into a major venue that allows 5-10k guests per event.
What about kids partying. Past festivals in the area were well known for party havens for kids. How are you different?
Sandy River has strict policy on those under 18. If you are under 18 you can’t attend the event unless you are accompanied by your parent or legal guardian. Children are not allowed to be out at night without their parents. Everyone is given an admission bracelet. If the color for adults is Orange then the color for kids would be green and the color for parents would be purple. Security will be actively looking for kids without a parent with them.
What about environmental hazards. You are so close to the river and we are worried about the salmon habitat. What are you going to do to protect it?
For starters when we bought this place it was an old junk yard of cars and a serious environmental hazard. We have cleaned up over 100 gallons of used motor oil and many other contaminants on the property. We are still actively cleaning sites as we find them. Sometimes it is hard as there is 70 acres of woods and sites can overgrow with vegetation. We also have an active cleanup crew which means instead of cleaning up at the end of the event there are people walking around cleaning up messes as they hit the ground. There is no glass allowed on the property and we have 0 cars on the property that do not run. Our toilets are to be pumped out by professionals at the end of every event. Our footprint will be no larger than a boat launch or public park. Everyone will be met at the gate as they leave and asked to surrender any trash to protect it from becoming litter. Sandy River plans to adopt the highway 15 miles north and south of the site and the day after an event travel this path and pick up trash. Local residents of willow will be employed for this work as well as most of the positions we have available.
What about drugs. Aren’t all these events filled with drug?
There are many festivals even in this state that have a reputation for not being drug fests. The presence of security, the quality of the gate entry team, and a good diversity in the crowd are the major factors in this. You can’t stop all drug use anywhere however you can provide an environment friendly to those who do not use drugs making it less alluring for drug users. Again many festivals in Alaska have accomplished this. This does not pertain to legal drugs like alcohol unless they are in the presence of a minor. We do have plans of a Bar & Grill on the property and support the safe regulation of legal drugs like alcohol. During the exit checkpoint each driver will also be check for sobriety and they will be asked to surrender any open containers.
What about the road?
I am afraid you are going to ruin the road to the property with all that traffic. I am also worried about your patrons using the road unsafely.
The road is a great concern to us as we need to use it. We will have heavy equipment and a contract with the local tow company to quickly remove any breakdowns of vehicles blocking the road. There are parts of the road now that have been in bad shape for some time now. We plan to repair these parts of the road and continue to assist on road maintenance and improvements throughout the years. A checkpoint will be setup at the highway with hired security or law enforcement with signs explaining that you must drive slowly. Those caught speeding, or polluting will not be allowed into the event. This information is on their ticket. A water truck will drive the road on dry days to keep the dust down. Almost all complaints from events like this come from the creation of dust on the road. We have started talks and met with a local property owner about the idea of a private road. There are many wetlands and other easement issues that go along with a new road and this is not the kind of issue any business ever covers quickly. We do have hopes that we can find a solution however there are no guarantees and it takes months if not years to evaluate not to mention the cost will be very high and loans and grants will have to be put in place.
The place looks like a swamp. What about mosquitos and wetlands?
When we bought the place the previous owner told us about how much he wanted a private lake on the property but could never find anyplace that would hold water here. We are very high up here from the water table, only about 5 feet to gravel bed and have 70 ft wells. With no standing water the bugs are very nice compared to other places in the area. Bug machines will be actively trapping mosquitoes all summer around the festival site. None of the land here is wetlands and all laws will be followed with regards to building and land use near the river.
What about fires?
Fires will be in fully constructed and monitored fire pits only and in public locations. They will be permitted by the fire department. Our water truck will also serve as a fire truck that can respond quickly to not only fires on the property but surrounding areas as well. The river really helps as an active source of water. During the Sockeye fire we lost only a small portion of our property do to the road access we have down to the river. The firefighters had almost a mile of hose spread across our property and trucks in and out constantly filling with water from the river. This access saved many homes in the area.
When is this being built?
The site is currently operational for small events under 500 people. These size of events you would never even notice they are in your area unless you lived directly on the street it was on. They have very low community impact. We are proposing starting construction as early as the summer of 2017 and slowly grow in size over a period of 5 years. Most projects of construction have delays so to be safe we say 5-10 years.
Is this an out of state project?
People are quick when they hear about change to jump to the conclusion it must be from the lower 48. I was born in Tacoma, WA. However I came to Alaska in 1996 as a commercial fisherman and never left. In my younger days I was an avid outdoorsman and have lived in a cabin in the woods, lived under a ski resort, hiked many beautiful alaska destinations and started multiple businesses. Now in my 40's I have moved to a piece of property I bought in willow where we have a ranch, farm, B&B, Cabin Rentals, Fishing Tours, Sled Dog tours, and this Amphitheater all in the early stages. My heart is in Alaska and my dream does not turn my property into a small city. I plan to leave as many trees as possible. Build with the trees I do take down and respect the land and the trails that wildlife have created as well as the salmon fishery that will be the backbone of our homestead operations.
Someone told me you sell SPICE. Is this true?
When Spice first came out I sold it in my retail store as almost all of my competition was selling it. The first chemical used to make spice was no more dangerous than coffee. In fact less people were going to the emergency room for spice than coffee and they were suffering from the exact same symptoms. When that first chemical was made illegal manufacturers invented many other drugs that were similar. Once word got out that these drugs made you crazy and had serious side effects like death myself and almost all the stores in Anchorage except for a few stopped selling it. I became an activist against spice and when the anchorage assembly refused to ban the new ingredients in spice because they said they will just keep making up new ones I was very unhappy. To make matters worse they passed a law that made it a civil crime to sell packages that looked like spice. At that point they came in my store and charged an employee with the crime of selling illicit drugs for a package of marshmallow root ( a common herb with little to no effects and approved in every state).The problem with civil charges is there is no court date to defend yourself so my employee was now no longer able to get financial aid, student loans and many other things since he sold marshmallow root. I was so furious they would charge an innocent person with a crime they did not commit and could not get removed without a lawsuit. Then I saw in the paper how many of these citations they happily issued. I called my attorney and paid a large sum of money to have the muni drop the charges against him. I then called the paper on my own accord and told them my story. I did not then nor do I regret putting my name in the spotlight over this issue. My hope was that the assembly would actually ban the drug rather than continue with a law that does not allow them to arrest people. After some time had passed there was a huge outbreak of spice being sold to the homeless and many people died. Finally after this pressure they passed a law that allowed them to arrest people. However they still have not added those new chemicals that were invented 3 years ago to the list of controlled substances that are illegal here. These chemicals and are on file with federal government and easily copied over I still attest these chemicals must be added to the list.
A facebook group called “Concerns about Sandy River amphitheater” has been setup and is open to the public. This is not a place for trolls to spread misinformation\. Questions and concerns will be answered. Accusations and inappropriate messages will be deleted. Any reoccurring questions will be posted here for convenience. Please try and create a new post for each question. Keeping everything in one thread makes things hard to find and read especially since facebook will not bring you to the exact spot of the conversation when you click the link, it will only bring you to the top of thread. This is because all message communications boards are designed so each issue should have its own thread. Not only is it polite but it is also proper procedure. If you find your question was not answered it will usually be because you posted your question inside someone else’s unrelated post rather than start your own.