Tempe city council unanimously signs letter in support of Shady Park amid ongoing legal battle

Until now, the Tempe city council hasn’t said much about the issue, but Thursday, Vice Mayor Randy Keating presented a letter supporting Shady Park.
Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 10:01 PM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The saga of Shady Park versus Mirabella in Tempe continues, this time with the Tempe City Council coming forward in support of Shady Park.

Shady Park is the longtime live music venue on Mill Avenue, and Mirabella at ASU is the new retirement community built across the street. Mirabella filed a lawsuit against the music venue, claiming they were a public nuisance. Due to a recent court ruling, Shady Park said they will not be able to have live performances anymore.

For the first time, the Tempe city council members shared their opinion in support of Shady Park by unanimously signing a letter.

The feud began when Mirabella residents moved in during 2020 while live concerts weren’t happening at Shady Park due to the pandemic. When concerts came back, Mirabella residents complained of noise and eventually filed a lawsuit against Shady Park back in November.

In mid-April, the Maricopa County Superior court announced the Shady Park concert venue has been a nuisance to the surrounding community and will need to lower its noise levels and restrict live musical performance hours to between 7 and 11 pm and from 2 to 7 pm on Sundays.

Shady Park’s owner said with those new rules, they won’t be able to have live music performances anymore.

Until now, the Tempe city council hasn’t said much about the issue, but Thursday, Vice Mayor Randy Keating presented a letter supporting Shady Park and continued live music that all seven city council members signed. “Mill Avenue is still hammered from COVID-19, and I would hate to see us lose...we’ve lost so many iconic bars and restaurants on mill avenue, I’d hate to see us lose another,” said Keating. “I couldn’t sit silent and not say anything,”

Keating explained what bothered him most. “My big problem is the judge, I feel, is usurping city authority here to tell the city council how we can regulate and manage our downtown. To me, that’s the most troubling aspect of it,” Keating said.

During the executive session, Tempe City Council decided to vote on filing a “friend of the court brief” at their next public meeting once Shady Park files their appeal.

Full statement from Shady Park:

“We appreciate the support of the Tempe City Council and their acknowledgment of what Shady Park means to the City’s economy and culture. As we ready our appeal of the judge’s unfortunate ruling, we appreciate the support we’ve received from thousands of members of the Shady Park family.

“This fight is a long way from over. We are hopeful a solution can be found to allow Shady Park to stay open and continue to contribute to the city we love.”

Full statement from Mirabella:

Mirabella supports live music in Tempe. It has never attempted to shut Shady Park down. It did not do so before the litigation was filed; it has not asked Shady Park to do so in the litigation. And the Court’s preliminary injunction allows Shady Park to continue to hold its outdoor concerts seven days a week.

Judge Astrowsky’s ruling is not about live music in Tempe; it’s about the specific public and private nuisance caused by Shady Park’s excessive noise. The Court carefully considered evidence from people of all ages who live and work on University Avenue, including hotel management who receive numerous complaints about Shady Park’s excessive noise every single weekend and students who can’t “think, study, and work” during Shady Park concerts, in addition to residents at Mirabella who simply want to sleep at night and enjoy their homes as every person does. After careful consideration of more than twenty witnesses and more than one hundred exhibits, the Court simply ordered Shady Park to make reasonable changes to the way they operate their outdoor concerts. Rather than comply with these changes, Shady Park has voluntarily chosen to cancel its concerts.

It should be noted that Shady Park is entirely surrounded by apartments and hotels because the City of Tempe has pursued a strategy priority of growth in downtown Tempe. Vice Mayor Keating himself has said that attracting people to Tempe requires “more of a city atmosphere” and more density in the downtown urban core. Downtown residents are entitled to the same protection from excessive noise that any other Tempe citizen is. Judge Astrowsky’s ruling makes this abundantly clear.

We encourage the Tempe City Council members or anyone else interested in this issue to review the evidence provided to Judge Astrowsky during the 5-day hearing.