2014-08-21 / Opinion


Let's All Be Good Neighbors

S ummer moves right along here in Newport. The tourist season is well past the halfway point. But sidewalks downtown still swell with tourists and summer residents who vie, mostly in polite fashion, for sidewalk space.

Crowds try most people's patience. And so do construction sites that beget various work trucks, roped off sidewalks, dust and routine building debris. This summer, substantial renovations at the “shrink-wrapped” Audrain Building has all but choked off the only Bellevue Avenue access to the Bellevue Plaza and its busy Stop & Shop supermarket and other, smaller shops.

Do you feel your temperature rising yet?

Meanwhile, down the hill at the Newport Yachting Center, major national music acts take turns drawing enthusiastic crowds and–surprise– generate a controversial amount of noise in the process. If you happen to live on nearby residential streets or in nearby waterfront condominiums, the music unfortunately has already been enough to make some of you reach for earplugs or aspirin.

Amid all this summertime activity, there ought to be some way that we can all co-exist as good, considerate neighbors.

Like it or not, noise, construction, congested streets and sidewalks– and, popular music for that matter–are all signs of a city that’s alive, of an economy that’s headed in the right direction, of people on the move.

Construction sites are not just the disruption we must endure to have beautifully restored or newly constructed buildings. They are jobs for men and women with families to support. They represent paychecks for workers and healthier revenue streams for Newport and other municipalities where officials hate to raise taxes just as much as residents dislike seeing their taxes increase.

So the next time you start feeling annoyed by summer construction inconvenience, tip your hat to those workers, bid them good day, and let your blood pressure fall back to normal.

Music emanating from the Yachting Center’s Summer Concert Series is not so easily ignored for those who live near the waterfront venue, especially those who’ve lived there since before the concerts began and have never gotten used to the decibel levels that today’s (and yesterday’s) music sometimes reaches.

The Newport Harbor Corporation, of which the Newport Yachting Center’s music venue is a part, is not deaf to neighbors’ concerns. Before this summer’s concerts had even begun, the center had installed noise buffers to try to diminish any assaults on neighbors’ ears. They believe the buffers have helped–but also realize that these sound mitigations alone cannot solve the decibel issue. They say they will continue to seek better solutions, but also concede they do not yet know what those solutions would entail.

At some point in this ongoing debate, Newporters may have to decide whether they want to continue luring such well-known, highly talented popular (and loud) music acts such as The Beach Boys, Ziggy Marley and Barenaked Ladies to this summer venue.

It would be sad to see the end of such high quality summer music fare. But what if it turns out to be the only neighborly thing to do?

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