Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 11, 2013

Editorial: Address Open Space, festival policies

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — Traverse City’s Open Space isn’t Coney Island, though on some summer weekends it’s hard to tell the difference.

Call it festival fatigue, perhaps; what matters is that some in Traverse City are wondering if the Open Space has been co-opted for festivals. It’s a fair question.

City records show the “major-impact” festivals began this year with the Cherry Festival from June 29 through July 7 (though with setup time it actually spread out for 13 days or so) and then the Traverse City Film Festival that ran for nine days (including pre-festival activities) beginning July 30. Then there was an every-other-weekend string of August gatherings; the Traverse City Music Festival and the TC Waterman Challenge and Expo arrived Aug. 14 for five days. The Bayside Festival began setup Aug 29 for three days .

That’s 30 days, including setups, about a third of the three months of summer. That’s a lot of days for the city’s prime waterfront location to be at least partially taken over by some festival or another.

That was about the same number of festivals as last year; but the Bayside Festival seemed to be a last straw.

There was a lot of conversation about why the Bayside Festival seemed so much louder than other events. The company that provided the sound system said it was a duplicate of what was used for the Cherry Festival; but there was speculation that the greater amount of tents, traffic and bodies at the Cherry Festival helped dampen the sound.

But it may have been simpler than that: as someone speculated “... it’s the end of the season and people are tired of hearing it.” And dealing with it.

That’s the issue the city commission must deal with: How much is too much, and what do we do about it?

City officials have said they will again revisit the city’s festival and noise policies, but this time residents are going to want more than just talk of decibels. Allowing the Open Space to be taken over, even in part, for a third of the summer is starting to feel like much too much of a good thing — and “good” is open to debate.

Lou Colombo, who lives on Boardman Lake at 14th Street and who said noise from the Bayside Festival was “horrendous,” may have an idea. When he heard the Bayside folks paid a paltry $425 to use the Open Space for five days, Colombo said that at that price, he might reserve the it for 10 weekends so the public can enjoy it.

Call it the “Quiet Space Festival,” Parts I, II, III, IV, etc. It may be an idea whose time has come.