Sunday, July 13, 2008

Be nice, if you please

The guest is God.
- Hindu proverb

The guest is a jewel resting on the cushion of hospitality.
- Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe

If ever there was any doubt that summer residents at the RV Park are considered to be second-class citizens, that issue was put to rest by the rude and insulting letters published in both papers last week in response to a reasonable request by park resident Norm Larsen. Norm was speaking on behalf of many others who are themselves expected to quiet down after 10 p.m. but find sleep impossible due to loud music from the Birch Terrace and the Gunflint Tavern.
What insults they were subjected to, simply for a noise complaint that even in rowdy Minneapolis would have resulted in a visit from the police asking that the noisemakers tone it down. Grand Marais is currently considering adoption of a noise ordinance and I Truly hope they will despite "noise" from people who must never have lived in a big city where such ordinances are routine.
Many others besides Norm and the park "guests" (who according to the letter writers don't deserve a voice since they don't pay taxes) either live in or visit Grand Marais because of the beauty of the harbor, the nearby lakes and woods, the shops and art galleries, the folk school, the hiking trails, and a rather endless list of sports and attractions other than late-night entertainment.
As a tourist some years ago, staying at a cottage on the hill in town, I was kept awake by some musicians jamming outside, behind the present-day Gunflint Tavern. In my nightclothes, I followed the noise to the source and to their astonishment, burst in on them wild-eyed and said, "I can't sleep, so could you please STOP."
Why is this not okay? Those who break the peace and silence that most "guests" come to enjoy ought to be the ones to compromise. Surely there is a way to mitigate sounds: keep doors and windows closed, don't use loudspeakers, quiet down at a reasonable hour OR install soundproofing. This didn't used to be a problem. True himself has attended concerts at both venues that did not impinge on the surrounding tourists and resident families.
Lots of families with young children all over the residential parts of town can hear open-air noises from near the lake; sound carries. The burden is on the noisemakers; the great majority of "guests" or tourists or summer residents want quiet enjoyment and don't need to stay up half the night partying. That's not why they come to the North Shore.
As for locals all their lives who want to exclude those "guests" they don't like, hello? You are truly cutting off your own noses, my friends.
And the 86-year old lady who sleeps through the night? Hmm. Like many young people whose hearing has been decimated by loud decibels, the elderly commonly have some hearing loss.
But True is most appalled by Stephan Hoglund's jibe about "poverty level" rents paid by RV park visitors. Even were it True it is not NICE, and it would not be said of boat slip renters who pay even less (about $900 per year).
Assuming that the 50 or so RV renters who return year after year stay an average of four-and-a-half months, they pay $500 per month for their space alone, without the house or the electrical hookup. All of those dollars go into the Grand Marais City coffers... If that is "poverty" level, many of us who are year-round residents might be the target of Hoglund's ire for not having enough money to matter.
But it needs to be reiterated that locals don't have the only say in what happens here; if the tourists don't like it they won't come back.
Norm has gotten signatures from 60 or more residents of the RV park as well as neighbors around the Birch Terrace. Let's face it, most people don't like to stay up carousing all night. Surely 10 or 11 p.m. is a reasonable hour to quiet down. Those who want to party on through the night, let them stay indoors.

No comments: