TRAVERSE CITY — City commissioners will leave concerns about noise, trash, and the Clinch Park grass to its staff to work out with the Traverse City Film Festival
The city commission approved the working agreement with the Film Festival on Monday and will rely on staff to protect the new grass at Clinch Park and keep trash cans from overflowing. Deb Lake, Film Festival executive director, deadened any noise concerns by meeting with residents of the Central Neighborhood Association about movie sound when they angle the screen for their popular Open Space movies back towards downtown
She came to the Central Neighborhood, made a presentation and answered everyone’s questions,” said city Commissioner Jim Carruthers, who lives in the Central Neighborhood. “I know it’s annoying for some, but it’s part of the aura of these festivals.”
City Commissioner Jeanine Easterday lives downtown and said she found a decibel level application for her smartphone that she used to monitor concerts and other events for the National Cherry Festival. Most of the time the decibel level was in compliance with the city’s noise ordinance, but both the midway and the fashion show had some loud spikes above acceptable noise levels.
Easterday doesn’t expect anything quite that loud from the Film Festival.
“I think they’ve made a good faith effort to dampen (the sound), but I have my decibel app and I’ll be down there now,” Easterday said. “So I’ll have data.”
Noise complaints from residents in the Central Neighborhood had forced Film Festival officials to move the towering Open Space movie screen so it faced east instead of towards downtown and the Central Neighborhood.
The festival has invested in a new sound system with speakers located high off the ground and pointed down into the crowds, Lake said. The angle should keep the sound more localized, allowing them to return the screen to its original location where the viewing is better for the audience.
Carruthers said he doesn’t see a problem trying the screen change this year. His bigger concern is trash overflowing cans and littering the city’s parks, beaches, and streets.
“We are having a major trash issue with the number of people being invited into our town,” Carruthers said. “We’re benefiting from the festivals, but we are also getting the trash and noise and we have to question how much is too much for our little town.”
Makayla Vitous, interim city manager, said she will meet with Lake to address trash concerns.
Lake said the film festival is different than Cherry Festival because there are fewer people and few venues where people are carrying food away. They also have volunteers who stay late to pick up trash at events and have even emptied city trash cans on Front Street when they began to overflow.
But Lake said she also wants to work with the city to try and get more trash can pickups and will see if the city will “put back the third (trash pick up) they used to have for festivals before budget cuts.”