Carbondale’s passion for live music comes at a cost. Noise complaints are common when events at outdoor venues run too late or too loud, and even indoor music can leak into surrounding neighborhoods.
While many see an occasional disruption of the peace as the price of living in a vibrant community, calls for moderation have grown loud enough to elicit some change.
Last year, a loud, bass-heavy concert in Sopris Park the weekend before Mountain Fair proved the last straw for many residents. The town received numerous complaints, leading to a task force was set up to deal with the noise.
This summer, the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities scaled back music in the park to a single concert. CCAH added a Movies and Music series at the Third Street Center, hoping to spread the impact around rather than focusing it on one residential neighborhood.
It seems to have helped. Carbondale police received no noise complaints regarding Mountain Fair itself, although there were numerous calls about fireworks into the wee hours of the morning.
“Town staff and CCAH have developed useful policies and procedures that have assisted in making Mountain Fair more successful from an event management standpoint — this year those efforts really shined,” noted Mayor Stacey Bernot.
“I think residents appreciated the attempt to work with them,” agreed CCAH director Amy Kimberly. “Not having as many concerts there this summer did make a difference.”
The first two Movies and Music events were also complaint-free, Kimberly said. CCAH expects Aug. 17’s showing of “Singing in the Rain” to be over by 9 p.m., much earlier than some events at the indoor PAC3, or even many Roaring Fork High School football games at the nearby field.
Sporting events, construction and concerts all have different restrictions under Carbondale’s noise ordinance. Amplified live music for a public event is permitted up to 100 decibels between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. except during June, July and August, when it can continue until 9:45 p.m.
Of course, CCAH is far from the only organization sponsoring live music. KDNK community radio’s annual Blues and Barbeque fundraiser was one of the first live music events to use Main Street instead of Sopris Park.
Kimberly, who helped organize it, says that was intentional.
“Downtown was feeling dead, and the businesses were worried,” she explained. “All of a sudden things got really vibrant, and then the downtown businesses didn’t want everything right there anymore. This community does like to gather, and the issue is where they’re going to do it.”
Although some have proposed a new outdoor venue as a solution for both noise and scale, Kimberly thinks the existing venues are enough to serve the community.
“The festival business is kind of saturated,” she said.
Bernot encouraged residents with ideas or concerns to offer feedback by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Post Independent spoke with several residents in the Sopris Park area. Some left town for Mountain Fair, others weathered it reluctantly and many embraced it.
Ken Olsen, who has lived a block from Sopris Park for more than 30 years and witnessed the creation of the Fourth Street Plaza nearly on his doorstep, is one of the latter.
“I expect it to be loud. It goes with being downtown.” he said. “It’s not that often. Most of the time it’s very quiet. It’s worth it for all the vitality it brings to Main Street.”