Council issues permits but problems remainThe Superior City Council granted the go-ahead for nine events outside the Barker’s Island Inn.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
The Superior City Council granted the go-ahead for nine events outside the Barker’s Island Inn.
The move didn’t come without concern raised by boat owners who use the city-owned marina and have had to listen to loud conversations, amplified sound and even confronted trespassers on their boats. They say it wasn’t an issue before the hotel erected a tent for outdoor events.
Now, the city council could be heading down another path to address the noise and find a workable solution to the inn’s outdoor venue.
After all, long-time Barker’s Island Marina resident Judith Olson said she is hoping for a “win-win solution” to the situation. A customer since 1983, Olson presented the council with a possible solution to the problem.
“It isn’t just about amplified music,” Olson said. “It’s amplified sound,” which includes banter across microphones, and loud conversations coming from the St. Louis Pavilion, a tent where the inn has been hosting its outdoor events.
“We need to figure out as a group how to deal with noise abatement,” Olson said.
“It’s not that I want to stop anyone from having commerce or events,” said 30-year marina resident Corrine Daly. “But we have to come to some reasonable accommodation involving the environment and the outdoors.”
Daly said the tented, outdoor events last year forced her to encapsulate her boat in canvas, close all her hatches and still she had to turn her television all the way up just to hear it.
Joe Radtke, marina manager, said managing the situation is going to have to be handled in a comprehensive way if the marina is going to keep its customers coming back. Radtke has researched products to mitigate sound in addition to reviewing noise ordinances in place in other communities.
Wednesday, City Clerk Terri Kalan was researching an ordinance the council adopted in January 2001 prohibiting late-night outdoor entertainment exceeding certain levels. By May of that year, the council repealed the ordinance because enforcement was “nearly impossible.”
With the advent of phone applications that can read decibel levels, marina residents are hoping for a solution that won’t drive them away.
Rob Hahn of the Twin Cities said he’s been coming to the marina for more than 15 years.
“We live on our boats for the entire weekend,” Hahn said. “We don’t just visit our boats for a few hours and then go home.”
He said a variety of issues, from people having loud conversations after wondering to the docks to people boarding boats uninvited were not an issue before the Barker’s Island Inn started holding events in a tent. He would like to see security on-site throughout the night, because the problems don’t stop just because the music ends.
“Last year I made plans to actually leave,” Hahn said. He said he only decided to stay, something a number of his friends chose not to do, only after receiving assurances from the Mayor’s Office that the tent wouldn’t be an issue, “but here we are again.”
But two councilors stood against the recommendation made by the License and Fees Committee after hearing from boat owners who favor and oppose the hotel’s outdoor venue.
“I think anything we do would be a Band-Aid,” said Councilor Tom Bridge, who acknowledged he would be irate if he was forced to live with the issues raised by boat owners. “I don’t think these two things mix very well.”
Council Mick MacKenzie said it’s a situation that requires all parties to be satisfied, something that hadn’t been accomplished even with a compromise to limit the use of amplified sound to 11 p.m.
Bridge and MacKenzie voted against issuing the special event permits in spite of eight weddings booked for the outdoor tent.
However, Councilor Dan Olson said the committee had reached a compromise, and it should be up to the marina and hotel management to work together toward a solution.
Still, some councilors like MacKenzie and Bridge say it’s the council’s responsibility to create a workable solution, whether for the island alone or one that would apply citywide to address noise.
Over the summer, Councilor Jackie Stenberg said she will go to the island to gather more information during the scheduled events to get an idea about the problem and possible solutions.