The Galena Gazette is providing all of its news stories and photos of the COVID-19 pandemic with no payment required as a public service and in an effort so you can be totally knowledgeable as to how the pandemic affects you. Please consider a print or online subscription to support this vital reporting by a locally owned business .
GALENA–Fifty-five minutes of citizens comments highlighted the Monday, June 22 Galena City Council meeting. Members of the public wanted their voices heard–both for and against–whether or not to allow amplified music on Main Street.
In the end, on a 4-3 vote, the council approved the request by Catherine Kouzmanoff, owner of the Grape Escape, to allow permitted amplified music on approved outdoor patios in the downtown commercial district until Oct. 11. The allowance is for a test basis with special use permit from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The noise level cannot be higher than 70 decibels at 50 feet outside the property lines.
Voting in favor were council members Marc McCoy, Jerry Westemeier, Chris Allendorf and Robert Hahn. Opposed were Mayor Terry Renner and council members Pam Bernstein and Jerry Kieffer.
But even with the approval, during discussion leading up to the vote, council members shared their skepticism and wanted citizens who were opposed to the proposal to know their concerns were heard.
The city had two approved outdoor patios for acoustic music, the Grape Escape and Gobbie’s. With the change, City Administrator Mark Moran said other businesses would be able to apply for a special use permit.
Kieffer said he was opposed because he didn’t think residents should be subjected to the noise.
Sixteen public comments were read in support of the change, several of them from individuals who do not live in the city.
Six comments were read from city residents opposed to the move. Those opposed argued that the quality of life for homeowners should be considered and that the police will need to spend time enforcing the measure.
Kouzmanoff told the council she believes the issue is one of accessibility. She has had musicians cancel because their voices simply cannot handle performing without amplification.
Westemeier cast doubts on the proposal, noting that each business should be given two warnings before the permit is pulled.
“It’s probably going to get out of hand a bit,” he said.
Allendorf said he was willing to allow a chance but if there are complaints, the city can revert to the ordinance as it was. Bernstein pointed out that the comments were quite balanced in the number supporting and the number opposing. She noted many of those in support are not residents.
“I am going to side with the residents at this point and vote no,” she said.
Open spaces, recorded music
The council moved ahead with two other agenda items regarding the downtown area during the pandemic. After hearing from Warren Bell, owner of Galena Brewing Company, who spoke in support of the Open Spaces Plan continuing through the second weekend in October, the council approved that recommendation.
Main Street will remain closed to vehicle traffic from Hill Street to Meeker Street to allow outdoor seating at bars and restaurants as well as more space for social distancing.
“I think it’s a big attraction,” said Bell.
Aware that some restaurants were already playing recorded music through speakers on Main Street for background music for diners, the council formalized continuing to allow the music.
Bernstein voted no but all other council members were in favor of allowing recorded music played through speakers on the on-street outdoor seating areas in the downtown commercial district.
The sound from the speakers is for light background music and should not go beyond each establishment’s designated space.
In other business, the council:
•met in closed session for personnel, collective bargaining and review of executive session minutes.
Following closed session, the council voted unanimously to furlough Kevin Sinagra, a full-time public works employee from July 1-Dec. 31.
•approved the issuance of garage sale permits beginning with Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan.
•agreed to extend the waive of late fees for utility disconnects and late penalties for water, sewer, garbage, hotel-motel tax, food and beverage tax and amusement tax.
•approved the addition of the name of Bushrod B. Howard, captain Company I, 19th Regiment Illinois Volunteers, to the Civil War Monument in Grant Park.
•approved a request by the League of Women Voters of Jo Daviess County to honor the centennial of women’s suffrage in Grant and Washburne parks Aug. 23-29. The statues of Grant and Washburne will wear “Votes for Women” sashes that week.