Wilmington leaders update VIP ticket proposal for new amphitheater, pass updated resolution

City Council also heard the presentation by the NCDOT on the unsolicited proposal for the replacement of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:01 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - At a meeting Tuesday night, Wilmington City Council leaders approved an updated ordinance to provide VIP tickets for concerts at the Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park to promote job creation. The vote passed 5-2.

What qualifies as usage and who uses the tickets will be at the full discretion of the city manager.

The new resolution clarified the VIP tickets would not be paid for by tax payers and that council members will have to pay for their own tickets. Any unused tickets will be resold by Live Nation.

Mayor Bill Saffo said that although the wording of the initial two ordinances may not have clarified the usage, having tickets set aside for promoting job creation was no different than other cities.

“The box [seats and table] will be paid for from proceeds generated at the park,” said Saffo.

The initial proposal implied more than $14,000 would be appropriated to purchase box seats and a table for four at all of the upcoming concerts. A second ordinance outlined the specific uses for these tickets by mostly City Council members for the purpose of promoting economic development.

Leaders also heard a presentation from the N.C. Department of Transportation on the unsolicited proposal for the replacement of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

The concerns expressed by council members were mostly about the cost to the users from the proposed toll, the impact on Wilmington neighborhoods where the proposed six-lane bridge would terminate at South 5th Avenue, and the accuracy of the projected traffic volume on the bridge.

Mayor Bill Saffo was concerned about the bridge being funded by the community, not the state.

“When does the public get to know what the toll will be?” said Saffo.”Before or after the contract is awarded?”

The representative from the NCDOT did not have a clear answer but indicated it would be once a successful developer has been selected.

Other council members expressed concern for those who would be impacted by this proposal.

“What about the folks who don’t want to pay a toll?” said council member Kevin Spears. “What about the folks who don’t want to be relocated?”

Council member Charlie Rivenbark felt there were more questions than answers.

“the questions that are asked cannot be fully answered until a feasibility study is done,” said Rivenbark.

Executive Director of Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO) Mike Kozlosky was eager to address the funding issue with state leaders.

“We will continue to look for other funding sources,” said Kozlosky. “I will continue to fight state legislature for that money.”

NCDOT representatives first presented this unsolicited proposal to WMPO to replace the aging Cape Fear Memorial Bridge with a toll bridge June 30.

Since that date, leaders on both sides of the river have been weighing up the proposal in light of the fact that the CFM Bridge needs replacing after more than 50 years of use.

Other items of interest that were approved included ordinances to fund improvements for the Portia Mills Hines Park and to direct additional funds to continue the South College Road at Holly Tree Road Pedestrian Improvements Project.

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