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Asbury Park Loses Garden State Film Festival [AUDIO]

The uncertain future of the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park is already costing the city two major festivals.The Garden State Film Festival has announced it’s looking for other locations to hold the event, since the owners of the Paramount Theater and the Convention Hall, developer Madison Marquette, has shown no signs of replacing the sprinkler system.

A fire inspection in May found the convention hall to have an inadequate sprinkler system, which Madison Marquette would be responsible to replace. The developer however refused to make the costly repairs until disputes with the city over parking, maintenance of the waterfront, cost control, and the loss of the Bamboozle festival are resolved.

Tourism director Tom Gilmour said the city was in contact with the developer and said the issue was resolved, with a third party company brought in to manage the off street parking lots.

“The parking issue has been resolved and contracted and the real issue is the sprinkler system in the building. It needs to be resolved by I think September.”

Diane Raver, executive director and founder of the film festival, said that while they’ve received offers from other municipalities to hold the event, they still haven’t made a decision on where the new location will be. However, it will not be in Asbury Park this year.

“It’s no secret there is a lot of political turmoil in Asbury between the waterfront developer and the city, and they’ve made it impossible for events like ours to go forward.”

Gilmour pointed out losing the festival will deal a major hit to the local economies, with recent estimations showing the Garden State Film Festival brings in over $800,000 to the local economy; supporting restaurants, shops, and hotels in the surrounding areas.

He worries if Madison Marquette decides not to make the repairs and keep the Paramount Theater closed; future events and festivals will have to find a new home. That will prove devastating to the businesses that remain open year round and rely on the business in the off season.

“They depend on events and activity going on in the convention hall and paramount theater to sustain them, and if that isn’t there I don’t know what you do.”

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