Special News Release: Save the Oakdale

Ashley Winward

According to WTNH News 8, “last month, after its own investigation, the town [of Wallingford] ordered the Oakdale Theatre to stop the concerts after many [noise] complaints.

An online petition and Facebook page are garnering support from nearly 4,000 people who are worried that the noise complaints will close the theater.

Live Nation will go before the Wallingford Zoning Board of Appeals in the coming weeks.”

Save the Oakdale (Photo obtained via Oakdale.com)
Save the Oakdale (Photo obtained via Oakdale.com)

This issue hits home with Music Editor Ashley Winward who gives us her opinion and some facts about the theatre’s potential fate.

This week I was absolutely taken back by the shocking news that one of my favorite concert venues was in jeopardy. The famous Oakdale Theater in Wallingford has been issued a cease and desist letter by the town claiming that on top of noise violations, the use of the theater’s lobby, also known as “The Dome,” has violated its permit.

As reports on these allegations come to the forefront of local news, the fans have flooded social media in hopes their voices can be heard.

The Oakdale was established in 1957 simply as a tent in an alfalfa field. This open summer theater soon grew into a full-fledged year round facility in 1972. In its first design, the theater consisted of only the “dome” that accommodated 3,000 people surrounding a rotating center stage. Later on in the 1990s, the performing arts theater was added, bringing the capacity of the venue to 5,000. In the Oakdale’s illustrious existence, a wide expanse of genres have utilized the facilities, from Led Zeppelin, Chicago, Brooks and Dunn, and more. In the present day shows have been performed in both the theater and the Dome, everything from country, to rock, to EDM, and even touring Broadway companies have brought their stories to life on the stage.

The town of Wallingford has issued a cease-and-desist order to the Oakdale stating that within the past year, the sound has become nearly unbearable and that the venue is violating its permit by holding shows within the dome. Live Nation Worldwide Inc., who currently owns the venue, have filed an appeal and a meeting of the Wallingford zone of appeals has been set for next month. A consistent complaint amongst home owners has been that the introduction of EDM shows to the dome, such as Bassnectar, was the real start of problems in the neighborhood. The heavy bass and loud volumes have the ability to rattle homes and disturb residents through the night.

While I understand the concerns of the residents of Wallingford, to ask this historic venue to completely cease and desist is absurd. When moving into the area you were aware of the venue and if that was not suitable to your lifestyle, there are other places you can live. There have been shows going on in both the theater and the dome since long before I was born, so saying this is just becoming a concern now baffles me. Perhaps a compromise can be made, where only selective shows can be held in the dome, or that the facility can be updated to further sound-proof the lobby-turned-venue in order to appease the neighborhood. I have seen many shows in both areas of the facility and they have both been suitable for what was taking place. I will say, however, that my most memorable experiences have been made in The Dome. From All Time Low, to Twenty|One|Pilots and more, The Dome and this venue as a whole has been a part of my life for so long it would be such a shame to see it not celebrated to its full potential. I urge everyone to go on Facebook and like the “Save The Oakdale” page as well as sign the petition at http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/savetheoakdale where they have acquired over 5,000 signatures so far. Shows are continuing as scheduled, with the likes of Steve Aoki and Lady Gaga to be gracing both the Dome and the Theater. I look forward to returning to The Oakdale this year and for years to come, it would be an absolute shame to close the doors of such a historic staple of Connecticut entertainment.