Benefit concerts could be held at Petal Skate Park

By HASKEL BURNS,

For the past several years, the Petal Skate Park has lacked a corporate sponsor, making it sometimes difficult for officials to fund necessary maintenance and repairs at the park, including enhanced lighting.

But Hattiesburg resident Austin Griffith just might have an answer for that.

Griffith, a skater and musician who plays with several local bands, stopped by Tuesday’s meeting of the Petal Board of Aldermen to propose holding benefit concerts at the park to raise funds for upkeep.

“I frequent the skate park, and I noticed the last few times some of the lights have been out,” Griffith told board members. “I had an idea, because me and my friends do local music shows, and it’s kind of like a grassroots community-type thing where we want all ages to be able to attend and participate.

“We try to keep (the shows) away from bars and places where all ages can’t (attend), so we hold them in public places. We do want proceeds to go to Petal, and help fund maintenance and fix lights and things like that.”

Griffith said ideally, the concerts would last no later than 9:30 p.m., and organizers would do everything they could to cut down any noise issues.

“So essentially … we may have a band from out of town come through, and I or someone else will walk around and solicit donations to go to the band that’s playing and towards the city,” he said. “If anything were to come up short of what we agreed upon, I would definitely make up the difference and make sure Petal gets money out of it so the maintenance can happen.”

Brian Hall, assistant director of Petal’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the lights would get fixed one way or another, but the concerts would be an immense help to the department.

“We don’t have a business that sponsors the skate park like we do with the ball fields – we just don’t have a revenue source on the skate park at all,” he said. “And Austin had a great idea.

“We really don’t know how big it would be. The idea I had with him was to get the bands – and of course you have to pay the bands – but do something like 20 percent with a minimum the first couple times of a hundred bucks to use it. And then if it grows bigger, of course it would go up.”

Aldermen agreed to let Griffith work with the Parks and Recreation Department to come up with a plan for the concerts.

“Then when they come up with that, if there’s something we need to review to make sure it’s okay, then we can do that,” Mayor Hal Marx said. “But if it seems to be pretty open and shut, then we can just let them work it out.”

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