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City Council approves noon whistle for downtown Steamboat

Howelsen Parkway installation of longtime tradition slated for fall

A new noon whistle will be placed on the roof of the city’s Parks





A new noon whistle will be placed on the roof of the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department building on Howelsen Parkway.
Matt Stensland

— A new noon whistle will begin daily blasts across Steamboat Springs later in the fall, resuming a longtime city tradition that's been silent for about two years.

The Steamboat Springs City Coun­­cil unanimously approved Tues­­­day night the installation of a new noon whistle on the roof of the city's Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services De­­par­tment building on Howel­sen Parkway.

The whistle's sound, reminiscent of a steamboat, is deeper and softer in tone than the siren-like whistle that was removed from its downtown location in fall 2008 because of structural concerns.

The new whistle's potential noise, however, again was a topic of discussion Tuesday night.

Tracy Barnett, of the downtown business group Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, said manufacturer Mike Daugherty, of MD Whistles in West Virginia, is working to lower the whistle's noise output from its initial 150 decibels.

Barnett said the whistle will be atop a lengthy pole on the building's roof.

City Council Pre­­sident Cari Her­­­­­macin­­ski said 150 decibels is "like standing right next to a jet engine."

City Facilities Manager Steve Hoots provided City Council with documentation stating the whistle will be audible from between two and five miles away, depending on weather conditions and topography.

Chris Wilson, director of the Parks and Rec­reation De­part­ment housed in the building, said the noise is not a concern.

"We're excited about the noon whistle coming back," Wilson said. "(I've) heard a sample of it. … We'll know more when it's installed and the actual, real McCoy. From what we understand, we'll be able to adjust it in such a way that it won't be any worse than the train that screams by and whistles at us."

Mainstreet Steamboat Spr­ings raised $5,500 for the noon whistle revival, through efforts including sales of miniature whistles and public fundraising drives.

"This could become a trademark for our community," Hoots said.

Barnett said installation should occur before winter and depends on the manufacturer's timeline.

Steamboat resident Mark Fischer praised the sample he heard Tuesday night.

"Great whistle," Fischer told Barnett. "It has a great sound, and it'll be very distinctive."