PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY)– Another step forward: 420ish Unity Festival organizers made it past the Portsmouth Parks and Recreation Commission Wednesday evening. The commission recommended approval for the event in a 5-1 vote after organizers Lakeesha Atkinson and Germain Green presented their plans.

Now, it will go back to the city manager for approval followed by a permit process.

The presentation Wednesday addressed several factors like parking security and sound plans, as well as a plan to make sure smoking marijuana won’t be permitted on the property, the Portsmouth Sportsplex.

In a conditional approval letter from the city manager to the organizers, there was a list of 11 factors that needed to be addressed before final approval.

“Our presentation went good. I felt like we touched on those key points based on our conditional approval. That’s what was asked of us, and I feel like we delivered,” said Atkinson.

In Atkinson’s presentation, she said they will utilize the available number of police and sheriff’s deputies for the event. They will also contract several private armed security firms to handle the overflow. Atkinson said projected attendance is 10,000 to 15,000 people. Atkinson said the deputies will monitor the crowd to make sure no one is smoking at the event.

The city manager also requested a plan for the fields in case they were destroyed at the event. Atkinson presented a field insurance plan and quotes from Basnight Land and Lawn on how much it would cost to fully restore the grass.

A parking plan was presented that would potentially hire local bus drivers to shuttle attendees from designated pick-up stops. The shuttles would be in addition to some Sportsplex parking festival-goers would have to pay for.

Atkinson suggested there could be a sound barrier around the venue and they’d do sound level checks every hour.

When it comes to the booking, Green says 50% to 60% of their artists’ deposits have been paid, locking them in for the event. In the presentation, organizers said Sen. L. Louise Lucas supports the event and her business is a primary sponsor.

Still, Green understands why some are skeptical about the ability to pull this off.

“Portsmouth, Virginia, is a city that is not used to having anything. We are a city that looks like we’re undeserving. When you think of great events, you don’t think of Portsmouth, Virginia. That’s the image I’m trying to change,” said Green.

Click here to subscribe to WAVY’s Daily Newsletter emails.

Atkinson says now it’s time for community engagement.

“Right now, it’s 80% hey I’m excited this is going to be in our community and then we have to also address some of the concerns of some residents,” stated Atkinson.

Portsmouth resident John Gillespie lives off Portsmouth Boulevard and says he’s not worried about thousands of people being down the street for the festival.

“Anything could be good for the community if they go in the right direction… It might turn it around,” said John Gillespie.

Rafael Lawson lives down the street from the Sportsplex and has some hesitations, however.

“The parking is going to be all down here, over there, down there, there’s going to be parking everywhere,” Lawson said pointing to the street.

However, he admits it could be a positive event for the community overall.

“That’s a good thing to do. That’s a good thing to do. Yep,” Lawson said after giving it more thought.