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Roanoke discusses a new speaker system downtown

On behalf of the Roanoke Beautification Foundation (RBF), Rick Fischer attended the regular Roanoke Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 7, to seek council approval to use some of the historic lampposts on Main Street for the new speaker system.

This speaker system would replace the old system, but also expand to cover more area of downtown.

“We are replacing, but we are also adding because a lot of businesses felt over the years disconnected with the sound only being in that one area,” Fischer explained. “That they aren’t part of the Main Street corridor or the shopping experience.”

All Pro Sound—a company owned by Sweetwater Sound—came to Roanoke and “assessed the best options.” Fischer explained the speakers on the historic lampposts would have wireless feeds going to them.
Fischer asked for permission to mount speakers on six lampposts altogether.

The rest of the speakers would be on buildings.

RBF’s goal for the speaker system is to add an “inviting ambiance and background noise” for when people visit Roanoke to eat or shop. Fischer says that the speakers would be broken up into zones, so that some could be turned off if they weren’t needed for a specific event or for ambiance purposes.

A phone app would control all the different possibilities with the speakers, whether it be changing the music or turning the volume up or down or shutting off certain zones.

Fischer also said that these speakers could be used as a public address (PA) system for events.

Once the system is in place, RBF wants to make it so that the Roanoke Chamber of Commerce has “ownership” and is in charge of future maintenance.

“The Chamber is ultimately more in need of it for events and things of that nature,” Fischer said.

After doing their assessment, All Pro Sound came back with a proposal of $60,000, which was covered in its entirety by a donation made to RBF from Richard Waterfield, of Waterfield Enterprises.
Councilman Nick Scheer asked who would have access to the music and sound system that was played.

“It would be limited to responsible people, and if they abuse that responsibility, we have the ability to take that away,” Fischer said.
Fischer gave some examples of who could have access including RBF members or people from the Chamber. He also said he wanted the Town to have an access code, so that they could respond quickly if something happened.

Scheer also asked who would be in charge of the getting the licensing for music that would be played on the speakers. Fischer said that the Chamber would handle that as well, but they would probably stick to music that was license free.

Council Vice President Joan Abbott asked if adding a speaker would interfere with the “integrity of the lamppost.”

Fischer responded that, according to All Pro Sound’s evaluation, the lampposts are “structurally sound and solid enough to support the weight.”
Next, Abbott asked if houses close by would be affected by the noise of all the speakers spread throughout downtown.

“Having multiple speakers, you don’t have to crank the volume to get the sound out there,” Fischer responded.

Fischer also said that the speakers could be programmed to turn off to at a certain time at night to not interfere with residential quiet time at night.

After more discussion, the council approved RBF to use the six historic lampposts for the speakers. Fischer says they are hopeful to have the system ready for Christmas events this year.

During department reports, Superintendent of Operations Aaron Popplewell presented photos to the council of the grinder at the Second Street lift station that is “inoperable.”

The grinder, which is in the sewer system to grind up inorganic material, hasn’t been working properly for some time. Popplewell says that they have had to work on this issue multiple times recently and even had to hire someone else to fix for one of those times.

“It’s a constant issue that this stuff isn’t getting ground up,” Popplewell said.
Popplewell recommended replacing the grinder completely, along with the ladder that also needs replaced.

The council approved the purchase for both items.

Next, Popplewell announced that the Town now has recycling totes available at the town hall for citizens to pick up. Popplewell said each tote will have a card in it that includes where to drop off the recycling and what residents can and cannot recycle.

Last, Popplewell said that the Town Clean Up Day for Roanoke is slated for Saturday, Sept. 18.

In other business:

• Kim Hostetler, of the Huntington County Department of Community Development, presented Ordinance 2021-16 through Ordinance 2021-24. All ordinances had to do with subdivision control and zoning. Each was approved by the council.

• A public hearing took place in regard to the 2021-22 town budget. Since there were no comments, the public hearing closed.