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East County Wednesday, May 27, 2009 13 years ago

Merchant repairs silenced bells at San Marco Plaza

by: Pam McTeer

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Kevin Neurer scans the horizon, his eyes resting on the 30-foot clock tower at the center of San Marco Plaza in Lakewood Ranch.

The clock’s fingers move forward slightly and a chorus of bells breaks the silence.

“That’s a sound you don’t hear to often (in Florida),” he says with a smile. “It’s like a piazza in Italy. This is what they do (there).”

After more than a year of silence, the chiming of the bells is back at the plaza off Natures Way in Lakewood Ranch, thanks to the handiwork of Neurer, a retired attorney who loves to tinker with technology.

Already, the sounds are drawing vehicles to the plaza. Often drivers are simply curious, so they circle the clock tower hunting for the source of the sound. But even if they aren’t stopping in stores, they are getting to see the plaza and what it has to offer, Neurer said.

Neurer and his wife, Victoria Roberts, opened a financial planning office in the plaza in August 2008. A fellow merchant told them of bells that used to ring in the plaza.

“That first tweaked my interest,” Neuer said.

But he didn’t do anything with the information until he became a board member for the plaza in February. Neurer noticed the clocks in the clock tower were ticking a few minutes off. Determined to correct the problem, he climbed up the inside of the clock tower, only to discover nothing was there.

With a tip from a fellow merchant, Neurer learned the clocks — and the bell sound — were controlled by an electronic system with speakers. After fixing the clocks, he set out to restore the sounds of Italy to San Marco.

After making a few phone calls and testing some equipment, he discovered that someone had wired a live circuit into the amplifier.

“It pretty much fried the system, so we started tracking down exactly where all the problems were,” Neurer said. “From there, it was getting the whole thing working again. We slowly started to figure it out.”
Neurer expects to finish the second half of necessary repairs in the next month.

Contact Pam McTeer at [email protected].

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