Noon whistle in the works for Steamboat
Mainstreet, city officials discuss return; public hearing likely Sept. 7
Steamboat Springs — Efforts to bring back Steamboat’s iconic noon whistle are progressing and could be aired publicly Sept. 7.
Tracy Barnett, of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, said the downtown promotion group has raised more than $5,000 for the whistle and is considering at least two locations. The first, the snowmaking building at Howelsen Hill, suffered a setback when the whistle’s 100-pound compressor was revealed to be too large for the space. Barnett and Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said Monday that they are exploring the possibility of adding on to the snowmaking building to accommodate the whistle, which would blast a steamboat-reminiscent sound daily at noon, putting a different riff on the tradition of the siren-like old whistle that came down in fall 2008.
DuBord, Barnett and Steve Hoots, of the city’s facilities department, are meeting today to discuss a simple question: Whither the whistle?
Steamboat Springs City Council voted unanimously last week to put the whistle’s return on a future agenda, likely Sept. 7, to allow public feedback and a broader discussion of issues including decibel levels and impacts on downtown businesses.
The new whistle’s second possible location, atop Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue’s downtown station on Yampa Street, could accommodate the whistle’s size but also could be more annoying for businesses.
“The old whistle used to irritate people because of the sound,” Barnett said last week, referring to the shrill, siren-like wail historically used to summon volunteer firefighters to blazes.
The new whistle is a lustier sound more reminiscent of a steamboat than a siren.
“We wanted one that was kind of deep and not shrill,” Barnett said.
DuBord has asked Barnett for a number of specifications about the new whistle, including decibel level — and how it relates to a comparable noise downtown, such as a passing train — length of the blast and documentation of input from nearby business owners.
A test of the whistle could be heard in coming weeks, as well.
“It’s hard to tell what kind of impact it’s going to have until you hear it,” DuBord said.
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