Summertime brings lots of free, live music to Bellingham. This year, several exceptional local performers will bring their tunes to Maritime Heritage Park over the Friday lunch hour throughout August.
We spoke to Amanda Grove, Recreational Coordinator at the City of Bellingham Parks & Recreation Department, about the new concert series and the future of Maritime Heritage Park.
The lineup of musicians looks awesome! How did you get so many exceptional top-shelf local acts to sign on?
We are really excited about the performers coming to both our lunchtime Levitt AMP Bellingham Music Series and our Saturday evening concerts. Honestly, I was surprised at the great response from performers given this is a new, unproven venue. I view the great response from performers as testimony that musicians and artists are truly interested in enriching public spaces and building community.
MHP is a tremendous location that many citizens avoid because they have safety concerns. What is the city doing to ensure the park is safe and healthy?
Maritime Heritage Park is a beautiful gem in our downtown area! I believe the biggest barrier to revitalizing this park is the public’s perception. The City has taken a broad approach to addressing safety. The Parks and Recreation Department has made this park a priority. Aggressive pruning and cleanup has taken place over the last year. Signage has been posted to clarify park rules. We have been working closely with the new Neighborhood Police Officers to address safety concerns. Bicycle police patrols occur more frequently and police will be present at some of our larger events to ensure a family friendly environment. Our department has hired two Park Stewards for the summer who will be assisting with recreation programming, monitoring park activity and writing reports to track trends, and providing some park cleanup related to events. We are hopeful that having the Parks Stewards extra set of eyes on the park seven days a week/ten hours a day will serve to making the park feel safer to our community.
Could you speak to the partnership with Levitt Pavilions? How did that come about?
We were approached by Downtown Bellingham Partnership with this great opportunity to apply for this national grant in our efforts to revitalize and improve our downtown and Maritime Heritage Park. Bellingham was one of ten cities awarded funding by Levitt Pavilions whose mission is to “strengthen the social fabric of America though the power of free, live music.” This summer Levitt AMP Bellingham will support Downtown Sounds and our new Friday lunchtime series at Maritime Heritage Park. Here is a link to the Levitt website for more specifics: http://concerts.levittamp.org/bellingham
What future events or improvements can we expect for MHP?
For 2015, we are addressing some capital improvement projects at the park including replacing and repairing the amphitheater seating, replacing the walkway lighting and benches, and increasing access to the park for City maintenance vehicles, food trucks and other event related vehicles. We have put out a Call for Mural Art to bring a mural art installation event and new cool mural to the amphitheater, several events that are hosted by our department or cosponsored with other agencies. Events include the DBP’s Throwback Thursday Kickball League Tournament, a Pet Parade, a scavenger hunt, Food Truck Fridays, a Children’s Art Festival, The Community Food Coop Annual Party, Re-Sources Bellingham GreenDrinks and more. We are in the process of entering all events on the City webpage, www.cob.org (type in Maritime in the search bar) or you can “Like” us on Bellingham Parks and Recreation’s Facebook page.