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Give businesses, others a voice in controlling downtown noise



Published: Wed, September 18, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Downtown Youngstown’s grow- ing pains have gained a booming voice, but some argue that its range runs too loud and too late.

That voice blares out in the ear-splitting live bands in the central business district performing at outdoor festivals and in the revelry of thousands of fun-seekers. Judging by the complaints among some of the rapidly growing population of downtown residents, not all interpret it as joyful noise.

As problems go, however, this is a welcomed one. More noise reflects more downtown energy as a bustling destination for thousands seeking arts, entertainment, fine-dining, nightclub and other leisure attractions.

The complaints nonetheless must be taken seriously and merit further investigation and resolution. Any long-term solution, however, must balance the rights of festival promoters and restaurant and bar owners with the expectations of downtown residents to live in relative peace and quiet.

We use the term “relative” here because those seeking to call downtown home must realize that ongoing development, growing pedestrian traffic and occasional raucous nightlife will not be tuned down too low any time soon. Some, we surmise, choose to move downtown expressly for the exuberant and high-volume hubbub.

In the short term, the Youngstown Police Department has responded effectively by more rigidly enforcing the city’s decades-old noise laws. Specifically, officers are warning outdoor concert promoters to pull the plug by 11 p.m., as required by section 509.10 of the Youngstown Code of laws, or face fines and penalties.

In the long term, we’d hope city leaders would review and update their laws on noise pollution, particularly as they pertain to live entertainment downtown and throughout the city. The new Downtown Business Alliance could take a lead role in examining the scope and nature of complaints and how other cities experiencing similar downtown growth have responded to noise complaints.

A PROPOSAL FROM MAYOR

To control noise and address other concerns about downtown festivals and special events, Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone has proposed moving them to the Covelli Centre or its sprawling parking lot on the perimeter of downtown. Such an approach, however, would remove some of the luster of a truly urban backdrop for the events, including shops, restaurants and an awesome collection of 19th- and 20th-century urban architectural gems within walking distance.

Nor would the Covelli site fit well into events sponsored by downtown businesses at their doorsteps, such as Warehouse 50’s popular Parties on the Plaza throughout the summer.

Concerns about noise may only grow as the downtown becomes hometown for many more people. Plans for at least three new downtown apartment complexes and a downtown hotel are in various stages of traction toward opening dates as early as next year.

Now that the curtain has fallen on this year’s summer festival and outdoor-concert season, it is a propitious time to begin a thorough review of noise and other complaints from such events.

Any plan that results must not jeopardize downtown Youngstown’s continued growth and sparkle as an entertainment and cultural destination station. Nor can it risk lowering the voluminous influx of residents downtown. We’re confident city leaders, festival promoters, downtown stakeholders and central-city residents can work harmoniously toward a mutually beneficial balance.


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