“Rockfest mess angers officials,” reads the headline in today’s Kansas City Star. “…A parks commissioner wants the yearly concert to move.”
The implication being that officials at Penn Valley Park and Liberty Memorial are furious over the muddy mess left by the 50,000 or so attendees of this year’s Rockfest, hosted by Johnny Dare and radio station 98.9 The Rock.
That’s not the case, says longtime parks commissioner and civic sparkplug Bob Lewellen.
“This has happened before and it will happen again – and not just with this Rockfest group,” Lewellen says. “It’s no big deal. These parks are easily healed and the company that puts on Rockfest, AEG, is very responsible. In 30 days you won’t even know they were there.”
The single source for the Star story was incendiary parks commish Aggie Stackhaus, an on-again/off-again public official known for blowing her stack.
Lewellen says he spoke with the parks dept. this morning after reading the Star story and nobody was up in arms over the damage.
Outside of Stackhaus.
“Aggie’s just putting on a show and if you catch her right you can get a reaction out of her,” Lewellen chuckles. “It didn’t surprise me that Aggie reacted this way and it didn’t surprise me that the Star wrote (the story) that way…You know, Aggie has been a city council person and the (parks) commissioners have a lot of power. And to get a commissioner to say something like this was a coup for the reporter. But what was wrong was they said officials instead of one official. That makes it look like everybody down there is ranting and raving about this thing and that’s not the case.
“And we all know Aggie sometimes talks very forcefully before maybe she analyzes the situation,” Lewellen says delicately. “And maybe later she’ll come around with reason. But if you catch her early, she sometimes will say things that maybe she wouldn’t if she thought about it.”
A spokeswoman for the parks department says Stackhaus is no longer granting interviews but emails flooding in, in the wake of the Star story have been 95 percent in favor of Rockfest continuing at Penn Valley Park.
Hey, why not, Lewellen says.
“It’s a great source of enjoyment and that’s what the parks are for. And it’s a tremendous source of revenue ($50,000 each) for the parks department and Liberty Memorial. I guarantee you, even by Memorial Day the sod will be in and to the eye it will look fine. Rockfest is not the only one we rent to and a lot of the time there has been rain and we take care of it. This is (just) grass and it’s easily repairable if you have the money. And these people have the money and they’re obligated to fix it.”