WOODBINE — Adding a speaker system to downtown Woodbine could create a new kind of atmosphere and ambience that would radiate an even more positive vibe for those visiting it and in turn, could be beneficial for retailers along Walker Street, said Gary Alton.
Alton, who is heading up the downtown speaker project, spoke about it during a presentation to the Woodbine City Council at their regular meeting last Wednesday, August 26.
“I wanted to inform the Council and everyone here about its current status,” said Alton, adding that he wants to also ask for continued support of the project.
Complete with a short sample of a Bing Crosby Christmas song and ending with an excerpt of “Life Is A Highway,” the Rascal Flatts version, Alton explained that the system would a nice addition to the downtown.
Alton has been working side-by-side with Woodbine Municipal Light & Power on the project.
Light & Power is replacing or installing new 23 light poles along Walker Street.
On each pole then, a speaker would be installed, Alton explained. And from those 23 speakers, four "sound zones" would be created.
All the “zones” could be turned on at one time or a combination of two or three of them, depending on the situation.
“We could just turn on Zone Two [for example] in the middle of town at the square for a street dance or the crowning of the king and queen of school,” Alton explained.
One example where all four "zones" could be utilized is for a large event like the annual Applefest celebration.
Alton said sound matters because it creates an atmosphere and influences peoples’ moods.
And sound can also be adapted to fit a certain event or season. (Cue the playing of a few seconds of the popular Crosby song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”)
"Thanks Bing," Alton quipped after the short clip.
Music studies have shown that can help create a happy atmosphere and put people in a good mood, Alton explained.
Studies also show that the atmosphere can be beneficial for retailers, he added, noting how it could help increase sales.
“Because of this system, we can expand the kinds of activities and things we can do downtown,” Alton continued.
In other words, he suggested, downtown Woodbine will become a destination.
Alton emphasized that the system is not just something for now and the near future but for years to come.
"As a recent movee, I’m so impressed with downtown Woodbine,” said Alton, commenting on how it is both beautiful and functional.
Millions of dollars have been invested into it over the course of the last 10 to 12 years, he commented. And this is another project to make it even better.
The system's "headquarters" would be located at City Hall.
Then, Alton spoke about the price tag for the project, which is about $40,000.
Currently, approximately $15,000 has been raised thanks to a donations by the Woodbine Applefest Committee and a grant.
Alton turned his attention to the Council, asking if they would be willing to make a donation, too.
Council member Clark Smith asked if there was a certain amount that would be requested, and the figure of $10,000 came out because the Applefest Committee has donated $9,000 and will likely add another thousand to make it $10,000.
Alton inquired as to whether the City would match that amount.
After some discussion, the City decided to donate $5,000 now with the option of donating more at a later date.
City officials did ask Amber Nelson, city administrator, to look at their budget and the numbers to see about adding the additional $5,000 and if that would be feasible.
The decision to make the $5,000 donation with the option of giving more at a later date was done unanimously.
The now $20,000 so far will help get things going. Sidewalk prep is starting this week.
As money continues to be raised for the project over the next month, it will continue forward.