The Silver Bay City Council once again heard complaints about the new adventure park at the regular meeting Monday, Aug. 19— this time from more residents of Aiken Circle.
At the council's meeting Aug. 4, Pat Heinzen, a resident of Aiken Circle, located directly behind the North Shore Adventure Park, raised concerns about loud music and noise from the park. Heinzen returned to say that while the music noise had improved at times, the overall noise level continued, and actually increased as the park received more visitors over the past two weeks.
"I had Gary (Gary Thompson, city zoning) down at my house last week and a policeman down at my house and they said they couldn’t hear much," Heinzen said. "But it was the wrong time of day. When it's the middle of the afternoon, you can't sit in your yard. It's way too loud."
Mayor Scott Johnson said he'd received a report from Thompson detailing the visit and that Thompson said he thought the primary noise was coming from the Northshore Mining Plant crusher instead.
Barry Braun and his wife, Jenny, also live behind the park and raised questions about the park's formation. Braun argued that the neighbors should have been informed of the business.
"Granted, we don’t have a problem with them having a park. It’s a business; we understand that scenario," Braun said. "But it's the lack of transparency and communication has led to what we’re dealing with right now. If they came and knocked on our door before this all began, it wouldn't be what it is now. It's as simple as that. We’re asking them to be good neighbors."
Braun also raised an issue with a lack of fencing to reduce the noise pollution and pointed to a subdivision in the city zoning code. According to city code: "Screening shall be required in business and industrial districts where any business or industrial use (i.e., structure, parking or storage) is adjacent to property zoned for residential use. The business shall provide screening along the boundary of the residential property."
The park doesn't have a fence along its border with the residential zone.
"I don't think a fence is going to solve everything, since the fence would be maybe 8 feet high and they're 30 feet up in the air on those platforms," Braun said. "But it would prevent people from walking up to our backyard and asking us if they're open today since their main office is right off our backyard."
The park originally planned to have the main office, where attendees view safety training videos, closer to Minnesota Highway 61, but the city couldn't allow the building to be placed over a sewer line. The office is now further back on the property, close to the Braun's backyard.
"That was the worst part of this whole thing, that decision to move the building," Braun said.
Other neighbors Todd Rose and Patrick and Catherine Miller raised concerns with contacting the owners of the park. The park is owned by Phil Huston and Alice Tibbetts and operated by Outdoor Ventures.
"It feels like he doesn't want to talk with anyone from Aiken Circle anymore," Catherine Miller said. "He says if it bothers us too much, he'll put up a fence, but it feels like he's saying that to get us off the phone."
The council heard the complaints and suggested the neighbors continue to contact the authorities if the sound is too much at late hours or contact the owners when issues arise.
"We’re going to keep passing along the noise concerns," Johnson said. "If you have a complaint that’s enforceable, they’re making noise, you need to call it in. And if you’re not getting a response, then come back to us and say, 'We’re not getting action.'"
From the park's owner
Park owner Phil Huston wasn't at the meeting, but told the News-Chronicle on Wednesday, Aug. 21, that he's received a few phone calls from neighbors regarding loud music and bright lights in the evening.
"That's the responsibility of the manager on-site at that time, but I feel like they’re really careful," Huston said. "We like music and we like it at night, but we don’t want it loud enough to disturb neighbors. So they turn the speakers away from the residential area. And when we do that, they usually have a staff member go by the residential area and see how loud it is to double-check."
Huston doesn't have plans to put up a fence, but said he'd consider it if he received enough valid complaints.
"No one has asked me to put one up. We have talked a little about it, though," Huston said. "If it’s a noise or visual problem in the future and it’s a valid concern, then we’d put up a fence. But no one has called me directly and said, 'OK, it’s at that point where it’s too noisy, not enough privacy.'"
He's also told various residents to call him if they have a problem.
"I've also offered them all free tickets to the park, but nobody has taken me up on that yet," Huston said.
Overall, Huston said most of his employees are Silver Bay residents who want to make the park's relationship work with the community.
"They’re sensitive to the complaints and they want things to work out for Silver Bay," Huston said. "They're aware and will always make sure it’s proper and we run a good, professional business and be good neighbors."