Petitioners ask city to turn down the volume on chimes
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:08 AM
"A few determined Port Orchard residents petitioned the Port Orchard city council members last week, asking them to turn down the city's musical chimes and cut short their frequent broadcasts.Bob Ruffner, who resides about four blocks away from City Hall, crafted the formal petition, which was signed by about seven neighbors before he submitted it to the city last week for consideration.I think I could have garnered more signatures had I gone around the neighborhood, but I don't have the time for that, said Ruffner, who works in Seattle. Rather, he passed around the petition to those he knew had been bothered by the volume and frequency of the chimes since their January inauguration.Don't get the petitioners wrong. They aren't necessarily against the chimes themselves, but rather the disruptive manner in which they are broadcast. I think the city did a good job by distinguishing City Hall with the chimes, Ruffner qualified. But we were looking for a way to impress upon the council how loud the chimes really are.To that end, Ruffner unofficially conducted a sound test on the chimes early last month with borrowed equipment, and included those results in the petition. According to his findings, the volume of the chimes exceeded state standards for what is an acceptable level of noise near a public school - at least when the chimes broadcasted a song and simply rang out the hour.City officials routed the petition to the City Council's Public Facilities Committee, of which council member Carolyn Powers is chairwoman.Since mid-July, when the city council voted to pull the plug on the chimes an hour earlier every night, Powers' committee was directed to consider other potential modifications to the chimes.Council members are looking into adjusting the volume, repositioning speakers, or paring down the hours of operation still further and limiting the number of times they toll during any given hour.But Powers said she doesn't want to act too quickly because she wants to make an informed decision, based on what all constituents want.There weren't that many people who signed the petition, and some who did, live in the same household, she said. And that's OK, but if the majority of residents like the chimes and don't have a problem with how they're operated, should the council bow to those who don't? I am doing some serious thinking about it.However, the committee hasn't scheduled a meeting since the petition was submitted, and it isn't clear when the chimes will be discussed again.Meanwhile, Ruffner and others hope city officials listen to their concerns over the chimes, so that they don't have to. "