GALENA, Ill. — A majority of Galena City Council members like the sound of a more musical Main Street.
Council members voted, 5-2, this week to both allow for amplified live music to be played on outdoor patios downtown and allow businesses with outdoor seating to play recorded music outside.
Council members also voted to extend through Oct. 14 the measure allowing restaurants and bars to use the parking spaces in front of their businesses to establish outdoor consumption areas.
While outdoor seating continued to receive widespread support from the council, the discussion of outdoor music drew mixed responses from both the elected body and residents.
More than 20 residents offered public comments on the issue during the meeting, along with some people who live outside of the state.
Galena resident Maria Stevenson said she believes downtown would benefit from allowing the music.
“We need to support our local merchants and musicians,” she said. “Some of our musicians depend solely on the opportunity to play at local venues.”
However, Galena resident Nathaniel White said the music would be bothersome to residents living near downtown.
“I believe this would be very disruptive both to Galena residents as well as tourists who are looking to stroll through our quaint streets without having music blasted at them from all directions,” he said.
At the moment, only businesses with special-use permits allowing for outdoor patio performances will be permitted to utilize music amplifying technology. City Administrator Mark Moran said there are only two downtown businesses with those permits.
Businesses will not require a permit to play recorded music outside.
Most council members expressed skepticism about allowing outdoor music downtown, but they were open to a trial period.
“I’m not sure which way to go on it,” said Council Member Jerry Westemeier. “It’s probably going to get out of hand a little bit, but if we don’t try it, we’ll never know.”
Council Members Jerry Kieffer and Pam Bernstein voted against the music measures.
“I don’t think I can support this,” Bernstein said. “If everyone does this, it will just be a hodgepodge of music downtown.”
Moran said some restaurants already started playing recorded music outside to accompany their outdoor seating. He added that the volume of the music will be left to the businesses to self-regulate.
Council members agreed that if the city receives noise complaints about the downtown music, then the issue will need to be re-examined.
“If we get noise complaints, we go back to the way it was,” said Council Member Chris Allendorf.