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Concerts Happening in Ridgefield Parks (CHIRP) has new parking rules

June 2, 2017 GMT

RIDGEFIELD — For the 15th year, Concerts Happening in Ridgefield Parks, or CHIRP, will hold a summerlong concert series in Ballard Park, this time with new parking regulations to help local businesses.

The series, started in 2002 by Selectwoman Barbara Manners, kicked off last Tuesday with a performance from the duo David Wax Museum. It will offer weekly and bi-weekly performances until September, including bluegrass, songs from the 1940s, folk and Latin music.

This year, the town’s Parking Authority will restrict parking in the lots immediately next to Ballard Park so attendees don’t take spots from local business patrons.

“There can be anywhere from 300, 400 or up to 1,000 people filling up parking (during the concerts),” said First Selectman Rudy Marconi. “That, in fact, has created the problem that there is no parking available for any of the merchants from CVS all the way through the parking lot.”

Marconi added that parking has been an ongoing concern, mainly after the series expanded several years ago to include shows two nights a week in the second half of the summer. CHIRP now offers concerts every Tuesday throughout June and then every Tuesday and Thursday for the rest of the summer.

The new regulations will allow only patrons of the businesses, senior citizens and handicapped individuals to use the lots. Other attendees will be allowed to drop off near the venue but will be asked to park in a spot further down Main Street, like at Town Hall or on Governor Street.

CHIRP’s first concert this season was moved to the Ridgefield Playhouse under the threat of rain, so the new regulations have not yet been tested. Security guards and Ridgefield Police will be at the parking lot each week to enforce the restrictions, Marconi said.

Town officials have discussed moving the concerts to another venue, he added, but that won’t happen this year. Offiicals have looked at the Schlumberger property as a possible location, after landscaping and parking renovations are completed.

“We certainly are looking at providing for that but that would be in phase two for the project,” Marconi said.

The plans to renovate the town-owned land for its two new tenants, approved earlier this year, are almost ready to go to the Planning and Zoning Commission, he added.

Next Tuesday’s concert will be headlined by Roosevelt Dime, a Brooklyn band that has performed for CHIRP three times.

Band member Andrew Green said the band is looking forward to returning to the venue.

“It’s really one of our favorite concert series that we do anywhere,” he said. “It’s clearly so well run and well supported by the community there. You can feel that it’s part of the local tradition in the area.”

CHIRP concerts are free and open to the public. The organization is funded by private donations.

“We really appreciate Barbara’s efforts,” Marconi said. “To have something people can attend for free is seldom these days. ... She is constantly hoping that people have the good will to offer the support that makes these wonderful concerts a possibility.”

aquinn@newstimes.com