Jun 252014
 

For those wishing to hear music throughout the downtown area of Naperville, pumped-in through a system of speakers, it’s not going to happen just yet. By a vote of 5-4, the Naperville city council decided to reject a motion to pursue the idea. Those voting to explore the idea included, council members Judith Brodhead, Steve Chirico, Joe McElroy and Mayor Pradel. Council members voting to ‘keep it quiet’ in the center of the city included, Bob Fieseler, Paul Hinterlong, Doug Krause, Grant Wehrli, and Dave Wentz.

It was a lively discussion, brought to the floor by Katie Wood of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, supported by a number of local business owners, but in end, city leaders decided to keep the current sound system which amounts to a boom box on the top of the Eddie Bauer store centrally located at the southwest corner of  Main and Jefferson streets. That may sound a bit archaic, but the ladder leading to the top of the short building is state-of-the-art. Most likely from Ace Hardware. The sound can only be heard within one-half block, which is perfect if you want music and you’re within the distance of a long fly ball. If you’re on the roof tops it might also be easier to hear it.

Another option between an expensive sound system and no music, is to simply give the ‘kids’, in the lawn chairs doing traffic counts, a boombox. I still can’t figure out how they can count cars while texting. If the city did approve a sound system, they could be in violation of their own noise pollution ordinance, expanded to 300 feet from 100 feet in 2008.

About a year ago on a weekend day, I was driving through the Village of Plainfield, and all of a sudden it went from being a peaceful drive to finding myself in the middle of organized chaos. People everywhere, motorcycles lining the streets, and music (rather loud) trying to drown out the noise. Traffic was crawling along, and after about ten minutes, the chaos was in my rear-view mirror. I was left to reflect what I had just experienced. It was like a really bad day at Chuck-E-Cheese with motorcycles idling.

Knowing that Plainfield utilizes a downtown sound system, I called Jonathan Proulx, a Village Planner to see how the system is working. He was there when the ‘sound went live’ in 2008, and he fully understands the system. There was a general consensus, with little if any opposition, to its benefits. It only covers a four block area from James St on the west, to Rt. 59 on east. Contemporary pop music is played daily from 10am til 9pm, with seasonal music when appropriate. There haven’t been any unpleasant surprises, or unintended consequences. I asked if he had it to do over again, is there anything he would change, and he said ‘no’, other than current technology which allows for remotely changing stations.

Personally, I like the sound of ‘silence or quietness’ and would like to see city officials leave it that way. More and more it seems like we are surrounded by overt or covert distractions. Yet a part of me sees some natural ‘tie-ins’ with music and bar brawls in downtown Naperville, and the following video clip shows how this could work in Naperville.

All it takes is for one council member to switch their vote from ‘no’ to ‘yes’ next time, and we could begin to see a lot more street activity.

 

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