The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

March 4, 2014

Summer events 'sound off'

By Brenden West
Assistant Editor

CLINTON — At the start of Tuesday’s Rules and Regulation meeting, coordinators for three different Clinton summer mainstays sat on opposite sides of the room with clear differences on the issue at hand. By the end, they stood together discussing how to settle their differences.

The city committee heard from the organizers of Finally Fridays, the group responsible for the monthly summer concerts that take place at the Riverview Park Bandshell. City leaders served more to mediate this time around; while the Finally Fridays group raised its concerns, it was directed more at delegates from the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre and LumberKings baseball team.

Last month, the Finally Fridays committee received word that its agreement with Clinton Parks and Recreation Department had changed. Parks and Rec Director Gregg Obren said Clinton’s ordinance has existed for quite a while, but after receiving complaints from other event committees, he decided to spell out the 65-decibel limit in Clinton’s agreement with the bandshell.

According to Finally Fridays committee member Lorie Susie, that limit is a joke.

All of a sudden we’re told that we need to be at 65 decibels,” Susie said through a prepared statement. “I don’t think I have a band anywhere in the city that would play at 65 decibels... A shower is 70 decibels, your alarm clock is 80, a sporting event is 105... 65 quite honestly is ridiculous.”

Her fellow committee member, Brenda Thornton, reiterated the frustration.

“If you’re looking at this from our group, the only one giving here is (us),” Thornton said. “We’ve all got to get along.”

Ted Tornow, LumberKings general manager, and Dave Sivright, Showboat board member, took up their complaints with the city last summer, when they said Finally Fridays’ volume was “worse than years passed.” All sides agreed the bandshell events benefit the community, providing locals with a free musical venue while taking up donations for certain causes like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

But there were moments in 2013 when the concerts inhibited spectators at baseball games and theater performances, those organizers said. Both also took issue with the fact that they weren’t consulted on changes to Finally Fridays’ agreement.

“I was up in the Lumber Lounge with one of my clients (in August) and we couldn’t converse,” Tornow said. “So I made the call to say that seemed a little excessive... It was an instance where we couldn’t function.”

Sivright added: “Our concern is they’re trying to make this a concert experience and it’s to the detriment of other things going on down there... We can’t lose three Friday nights a summer. We did not get complaints in 2012 like we did in 2013.”

Fortunately for summer entertainers, a solution may already be in the city’s funnel.

City Administrator Jessica Kinser informed everyone that soundproofing the Showboat is slated as a Fiscal Year 2015 budget item. The new fiscal year won’t kick in until July 1, midway through the summer schedule. But, at the very least, Kinser said, Clinton will address the issues in time for summer 2015.

In the meantime, events coordinators agreed they can work together to find a solution.

“We’ve got a lot of opportunity in the next couple of months,” said Ward 1 Councilwoman Julie Allesee. She normally serves on the Rules and Regulations Committee but recused herself Tuesday because of ties to the situation. “Let’s be friends. Let’s think of what we can do to keep building on our riverfront product.”

By meeting’s end, Obren said he would remove the ordinance language from Finally Fridays’ event agreement. Rules and Regulations Chairman Paul Gassman said the city will revisit the issue next year if noise continues to be a problem.