Thursday, August 15, 2013

Couple Tells City Council Ice Cream Truck Music Isn't a Treat

By Christina Georgiou

Easton City Council members listen to a complaint about music played
by city ice cream vendors. Mayor Sal Panto is on vacation and
Councilwoman El Warner attended by phone.
 To many in the city, the electronic music played by ice cream truck vendors means an impending cold treat on a hot summer day, but for one couple in the West Ward, it's a nuisance, say one West Ward couple.

Lynn Fraser and Jim Bloom, who live on the 1000 block of Ferry Street, told Easton City Council members Wednesday evening the trucks are too loud and the tunes they play repeatedly are annoying, disturbing them in their home many times a day in summer months.

"In the early days of our residence, ice cream trucks rang a bell to announce their presence," said Fraser. "Those were the good old days."

Fraser said that the repetitive nature of the tunes, particularly those played by Jerry's Ice Cream whose route includes the West Ward daily, makes her "blood pressure rise."

West Ward resident Lynn Fraser tells Easton
City Council members that the volume and
repetitive nature of music played by the city's
ice cream trucks make her "blood pressure
rise" Wednesday evening.
"If I have to listen to it for 20 minutes, I have to listen to the same tune 80 times," she said.

The city sent a letter after last month's council meeting discussion of the issue to remind ice cream vendors in the city of local ordinances and told truck drivers to lower the volume when they're driving through neighborhoods, and to turn off their music when they stop for customers.

But that remedy isn't enough, Fraser said.

"Turning the music down is too general," she told council members. "I can hear it two blocks away...Why allow amplified music? It's like second-hand smoke."

Fraser said she feels "intimidated" by the owner of Jerry's Ice Cream and that her dinner is frequently interrupted by his truck's music in the evenings. She also claims he's turned the music off at the edge of her property line only to turn it back on just after he passes by her house.

"He's a wise guy," she said. "He has a monopoly in my neighborhood. He's my problem."

Jerry Figueroa, owner of Jerry's Ice Cream, was not present to answer the complaint, though he was in attendance at the previous council meeting when the issue was on the agenda.

Fraser said reminding truck vendors of the rules doesn't do enough and suggested police should ticket ice cream vendors who fail to turn their music off when serving customers.

Bloom, a former city planning commission member, told council members he feels the ice cream truck vendors' music is in violation of local ordinances.

"The code specifically states 'no electronic music', and I don't understand why it's not being enforced," he said.

"We've been going through our codes and updating them," said City Administrator Glenn Steckman. "There are contradictions in the code we're trying to address right now."

City council members said they are unlikely to change the law unless others are repeatedly bothered or they receive complaints from others, but the city will again remind vendors of the rules.

"We will notify Jerry's that we have received a complaint," Councilman Jeff Warren told the couple. "We didn't want to implement a legislative remedy because we don't usually do that...We like to give people a second chance."

Councilman Ken Brown said he recently followed Jerry's truck and that on that occasion he was complying with the rule to turn the music off when stopped.

Steckman, who also lives in a neighborhood on Jerry's truck's route, said he's noticed since the council meeting last month, when the issue was last discussed, the volume of the music has been lower and has been turned off when the truck is stopped too.

"We are very concerned about quality of life issues," he added. "We want people to enjoy their neighborhoods."

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