When the Mumford & Sons show was held two weeks ago at the West Side Tennis Club, many park visitors said traffic patterns along Burns Street shut down walking routes for neighbors, many of whom are seniors.
They’re calling it the Forest Hills Concert Fiasco and have created a website (www.foresthillsconcertfiasco.org) dedicated to addressing the problem so the same long walk, which many say took them nearly a mile around the stadium, is cleared up for next year.
Neil Burton, a founder of the website and frequenter of Samuel Picker Square, said the promoters, police and community board got this one wrong when they closed down the block to foot traffic.
“Our issue is the access of the people in the neighborhood, and letting them go about their daily lives without being inconvenienced,” Burton said.
Burton said the site is there for anyone to comment on issues with the concerts and to open a line of communication with the club.
Brian Deutch has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years and frequently visits the park. He even recently painted the benches green to breathe some new life into the small square.
Deutch said while he was walking home along Burns Street, back from the LIRR before the show, he was turned away by police and forced to walk to Exeter Street, around the stadium and back down 69th Avenue to get home.
“They said the only ones who could go through here were concert goers with a ticket,” he said.
According to Duetch, police told residents prior to the concert that they would be checking identification and allowing residents through the barricades to their homes near the park.
“All they said was you just had to show your I.D.,” Duetch explained. “At one point, they told us they were going to freeze the park, but then they said we could sit here and there was no problem.”
Larry Rein has lived near the stadium for 36 years and remembers seeing Bette Midler there years ago. Like Deutch, he said is happy to see concerts back at the club.
“We always had a good time,” Rein said looking back on the concerts in years past. “The neighbors use to sell their parking spots.”
Both Rein and Deutch say they are still welcoming of concerts in the future, however they hope the club takes their concerns into consideration for next time.
“There was no problem with the security, but it was just the way they restricted the neighbors of the block and the park here,” he said.