Noise complaints lodged

Patrons of the recent Wine About Winter event in downtown Grand Haven were treated to background music emanating from the Musical Fountain speakers.
Becky Vargo
Jan 10, 2013


Dan Vivian, the city's facilities manager, said he received some compliments.

“They enjoyed having the music,” he said.

But some area residents thought the concert-type sound was a bit much for the quiet winter evening.

The Grand Haven Department of Public Safety received three complaints of loud music between 5:45 and 6:21 p.m. Friday from residents on Grand Haven's North Shore, Harbor Drive and Jackson Street. City Manager Pat McGinnis said he also received one complaint by e-mail.

McGinnis, who lives on the city's east side, said he was out with his dog that evening and noticed the music.

“I can hear it clear across town," he said.

McGinnis thinks the sound should be contained to its area. That’s why he brought up the issue at a recent City Council meeting.

“Council felt there’s probably a better way to get audio downtown," he said.

McGinnis said he knows there are more modern applications than what's used at the fountain, such as wireless, and he plans to research them.

The city manager said a community where he previously worked used a radio transmitter to send a signal to receivers in the town. The receivers were hooked up to strategically placed speakers so the sound was kept in the desired area.

Dana Kollewehr, executive director of Grand Haven Main Street Downtown Development Authority, said she received a request to have music during this past Friday's event with a proposal that the Musical Fountain sound system be used. She said other audio systems have been tried in the past, but the fountain's system is the only one that could reach the entire downtown.

The city's public works team did their best to tone it down and aim the music at the downtown, Vivian said.

“We tried to center the music right on Washington Avenue,” he said.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



When you live in a wonderful, active and thriving town, try to enjoy All that it has to offer. People need to stop complaining and start enjoying life!!!!!


I understand why some people may have found it a bit annoying ... however, I also feel it was a nice addition to our downtown to have some music. One of the problems with music in this weather is that the cold weather tends to carry the music much further. Also music is such a matter of personal taste. Some songs loved by one group may be hated by another. It is a hard call.


It was a bit on the muddy side and could not hear the lyrics clearly but otherwise added a lot to this event. My wife and I enjoyed it. This is part of what makes this city great! I wish more events were like this.

By the way, I live on Jackson and could not hear it in the house before we went out. Not sure what the complainer was wining about hehehe


the city should purchase old walkman radios with headphones to give to people roaming the streets downtown!they could tune in to the fountain and not disturb the poor souls who had to endure the horrible music.

papa bear

I live on washington and griffin and I could hear it there has to be a better way


There is a noise ordinance in GH for a few reasons. A major reason is so that everyone does not need to endure other's lound music. Regardless of how tasteful the music is, no matter where they attempt to direct it, playing loud music downtown is breaking the law. There are exemptions for events (such as those at waterfront stadium) and the regularly scheduled musical fountain show. Now, someone thinks it would be nice to have music downtown and the city violates it's own ordinance. Classic.


If sound is wanted only the the downtown area it is simple. You just have to position speakers on the light poles that can be wired (cheaper) or wireless (less labor to install) Not difficult to do.


I live around Second and Clinton downtown. So I hear the Fountain sound system all the time.
There was a very simple solution to the high audio level that evening. Someone just needed to
turn it down a little. I didn't have a problem with the sound level. But it was much higher than it usually is. As someone already commented. Temperature and weather conditions can and do effect sound waves. They just need to send someone out to do a sound check at say, First and Washington.
They can Communicate what the sounds levels are at that location. And the person at the controls can adjust the levels up or down. Not really a complicated thing to do.
Someone just dropped the ball that evening. Or the people operating things don't understand sound.


People find the need to complain about everything! It drives me nuts. Relax people, enjoy the event, enjoy our city, take a walk and be grateful for where you live!!!!


Well said "Boater"; talk about a discussion that didn't need to be had in the first place. I have lived the world over and always end up back in the Tri-Cities; no place like it that I know of. If this is what you think is worth complaining about, go ...


Much ado about nothing.. between the hours of 5:45PM and 6:21PM. I would not expect this to be a "quiet time", however in the summer the Musical Fountain music doesn't start until after 10PM and runs about 30 minutes. I live east of 31, between Despelder and Ferry and hear it plain as day and sometimes the bass reverbs off of a near by church and rattles my home and vibrates the basement. It is loud, it has a lot of bass on some songs, most of the time I've gone to bed because I'm up early for work, but you know what? I don't call and complain. It's a historic part of GH, only happens for 30 short minutes and life goes on. Life is too short to complain about little things.


If louder than average music from local festivities is your biggest hurdle for the day, well...... be grateful.


I live on the east side and we heard the music while out walking. I am pleased to read that Mr. McGinnis will be looking into a more updated technology to make for a more pleasing listening environment for our community!


Its just kind of funny that I can't listen to the radio in my car with the volume turned up enough that the sound is heard 30 feet from the car, but the musical mountain can "crank it up" loud enough to be heard in GH Township. It also seems a bit discriminatory that I can run through town on a noisy Harley but not the same sound coming from the radio of my little car.


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