Long after the roaring bikes and live music of Thunder by the Bay were gone last year, the two-day event remained on the minds of some Marina Tower condo dwellers.
Now, they say they want the upcoming event, which takes place from Jan. 3 to Jan. 6, moved to another location.
Twenty-nine residents at the 38-unit downtown condo signed a petition protesting the location of the event, which was moved several blocks last year from Lemon Avenue and Main Street to Gulfstream Avenue.
“The nuisance and disruption to our residential neighborhood is totally unacceptable,” wrote David Morton, president of the condominium association at Marina Tower, to city commissioners earlier this month.
Lucy Nicandri, festival director for Thunder by the Bay, has been working for the last six months to try to alleviate the concerns of condo residents. She has met with representatives from Marina Towers and two other Gulfstream Avenue condominiums, 1350 Main and Gulfstream Towers.
“I said, ‘I want to hear your concerns and work with you to keep this event downtown,’” Nicandri said.
Residents have two main concerns: being able to park during the event, which is attended by more than 30,000 event-goers, and the noise from the live music playing until 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“The crowds, noise and disruption were an assault on our right to the quiet enjoyment of our residential neighborhood,” reads the petition signed by the Marina Tower residents.
Morton and several other Marina Tower board directors declined, through Marina Tower’s property manager, to comment further for this article.
The event has hired a police officer to make sure parking at Marina Towers is not blocked. In addition, the sound crew will work to maintain sound at a reasonable level —around 90-to-100 decibels, Nicandri said.
Not everyone in the condominium is opposed to the event, which raises money for Suncoast Charities for Children.
“I don’t really have any problem with it,” said Louis Zazarino, a resident and condo board member.
Peter Fanning, president of the Downtown Condominium Association, wrote an email to City Commissioner Terry Turner and city officials in support of the event.
“I want to let you all know that Lucy has definitely reached out to the condominiums that would be affected by the Thunder By The Bay event,” Fanning wrote. “She has made as many concessions as possible in trying to accommodate the needs of the residents downtown. In addition, the board of the DSCA, at its Oct. 31 meeting, also gave support to Lucy, Suncoast Charities and Thunder by the Bay in recognition of the huge economic impact it has on our downtown and surrounding area.”
The event has met opposition wherever it has occurred downtown.
It was initially held at Lemon Avenue and Main Street, until merchants said they did not want food and retail vendors set up at that location. As a result, the event was moved to Gulfstream Avenue.
Nicandri said event organizers considered moving it to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, where some other large events, such as the Offshore Grand Prix Race events, are held, but it costs $5,400 a day to rent the space.
“That would significantly impact our budget,” Nicandri said.
The event brings in $6.4 million in an annual economic impact, and all of the proceeds from the event go to Suncoast Charities.