Wallingford area residents gathered Saturday in a rally to save the Oakdale Theatre dome after the town's Zoning Board of Appeals voted a few days ago to uphold a cease and desist order filed against the theater in December 2014 due to noise complaints from residents
An event called Save the Dome posted on Facebook invited people from Wallingford and neighboring towns to meet at the Wallingford town green to throw support behind the music and entertainment venue, known as "The Dome," at a two-hour "peaceful gathering." People at the rally said it's not just about a theater, it's about protecting an important part of the town.
"Bring your signs and voices to let The (sic) town know that the voice of only a few do not speak for the entire community," the description of the event says on Facebook. "Show our government that We The People want to be heard. When the town needed a temporary High School after a storm damaged Sheehans (sic) roof, Oakdale had no issues and no second thoughts about becoming Oakdale High. Lets (sic) also show Live Nation how much we as a community need Oakdale. This is a peaceful event only."
In a battle dealing with noise levels, things got loud in Wallingford Saturday. The Save the Dome gathering went from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Wallingford gazebo in front of the old railroad station at the corner of Center Street, Route 5, Hall Avenue and Quinnipiac Street. Dozens of people attended.
One person in the crowd said he worked there as a teenager.
"It means a lot to me because I am an actor and singer so as a young child growing up you had people coming in town and you know, inspiring people who wanted to go into that field," Robert Burghardt, of Wallingford, said.
The cease and desist order in place requires the Oakdale to stop hosting concerts in the dome and imposes a "no noise" condition. The vote to uphold it at the planning and zoning board meeting on Wednesday sparked the rally.
“I don’t know why all of a sudden it became an issue," Jennifer Morrison, of Wallingford, said.
The Oakdale Theatre has hosted concerts and other performances since 1957, but some neighbors have complained about increasing noise levels of many of the shows that have been held both inside and outside on the property.
“Oakdale has the right to appeal this to the Superior Court if they choose to," Joan Molloy, the attorney representing the owners of Oakdale Theatre, said. "The town has to make the decision whether it’s going to bring any enforcement action for the Oakdale’s failure to comply with the cease and desist."
Lawyers for the Oakdale said that the theater is trying to tone acts down by improving sound buffers and cutting music off earlier in the night.
Supporters of the Oakdale said it's an important part of their town from culture to business it brings in. They hope town officials will change their mind.
"They’ve listened to the few voices that have complained about the noise and complained about the deep basses of the music and everything else that I’m hoping now with all the people here that they’ll hear us," Jeannine Kremzar, the rally organizer, said.
Wallingford's Planning & Zoning Board will meet on June 8 to address any potential violations of the cease and desist order that was upheld on Wednesday night.