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Ernie Ritz, chairman of the Downtown Improvement District, is behind a proposal to install in Selby Five Points Park speakers that pump out music to create an ambience in the downtown park.
Sarasota Thursday, May 26, 2011 10 years ago

DID tunes in to park addition

by: Robin Roy City Editor

Selby Five Points Park has seen its share of change within the past several months.

First, it underwent a facelift, with new landscaping, brickwork and sculpture.

Second, an elaborate lighting system was added to its tree canopy. And last week the City Commission voted to remove all benches from the park.

Now the Downtown Improvement District is considering another alteration.

In musical terms, the DID wants to transform the park from “The Sound of Silence” to “The Sound of Music.”

Former Mayor Kelly Kirschner suggested in January that speakers be placed in the park to pump out music, and the DID is now prepared to make that happen.

“I like the idea of music in the park,” said DID member John Simon, a developer who has utilized outdoor music in some of his outdoor shopping centers.

DID board members want to spend about $3,000 on a computerized music system and are currently taking bids from contractors.

They briefly discussed at their May 17 meeting purchasing a more elaborate system that would synchronize the music to the tree-lighting system.

“Let’s first see how loud (the music is),” said Simon. “If we don’t like it, why be stuck with synchronization?”

When the subject arose about whether to consult with downtown residents, DID members decided to let the City Commission handle the public input.

“We can turn it down to zero or up to 12,” said Simon. “Somewhere in there is an acceptable range.”

Peter Fanning, president of the Downtown Sarasota Condo Association, said residents need to be consulted.

“I would want to talk to the residents of 50 Central and 100 Central, because they’ll be the most affected,” he said. “I expect we’ll have a good conversation (with the commission) over this sooner rather than later.”

Loud speaker?
The details still have to be determined, but Downtown Improvement District members are talking about acquiring a computerized music system that could play music from CDs, MP3 players, the Internet or satellite radio.

What could complicate things is that the city would most likely have to purchase licensing rights to play any of that music.

DID member Pat Westerhouse is a manager for Casto Development, which owns the Whole Foods complex, and her company uses the Muzak service, which includes licensing in its costs. Muzak is also a possibility for the downtown park.

Also to be determined are the times in which the music will be played: all day, every day or just on certain occasions or certain times.

And the volume will be a work in progress, but it cannot exceed the levels in the city’s noise ordinance.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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