By BRIAN McGILLIVARY
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A north wind blows ill to the ears of close-to-downtown city residents who don't seem to care for the musical strains from National Cherry Festival concerts.
City police reported a spike in complaints after the first two days of festival concerts. Most complaints came from residents on Sixth and Seventh streets in the Central Neighborhood, just south of the downtown. City and festival officials said the problem seems to be rooted in a new festival stage layout combined with wind direction.
"The direction of the stage may play some small part, but we've found that the wind can have a greater effect," said Trevor Tkach, festival executive director. "The first couple of nights the wind was from the north and it was blowing the sound into town."
City police took decibel level measurements during Monday night's Foreigner concert from the spots where residents lodged complaints. Assistant City Manager Makayla Vitous said the wind calmed enough so that decibel readings found noise levels fell in compliance with city noise ordinance standards.
She said there was one spike noise spike that came close to the limit, but that came from the concert crowd's applause.
City Commissioner Jim Carruthers said complaints are understandable, but said residents should accept added noise and traffic for the week.
"I can hear the music from my house on 11th street, but it's Cherry Festival," Carruthers said. "It's hard to complain about traffic and noise when we are constantly marketing our town to the nth-degree."
Central Neighborhood Association president Seamus Shinners said he received no complaints about concert noise, though several residents weren't pleased with the Saturday night airshow that started at 10 p.m.
"That night air show was a whole new level of noise we were not anticipating," Shinners said. "There's a reason we shut down the concerts at 10 p.m., so why do we have a night airshow."
Tkach said city employees were aware of the night airshow and didn't express concerns.
The Cherry Festival also has a noise variance from the city that allows its musical acts to play on until 11 p.m.
The night air show was supposed to be a one-time event, a deviation from normal afternoon show that featured military aircraft. Performances with a military bent were scrapped this year because of the federal sequester. But crowds seemed to love this year's night show, and it may become a festival staple, Tkach said.
"I've never gotten so much positive feedback on a new event," Tkach said. "People just thought it was one of the coolest things."