Edgewater

Rachel Helfvogt, left, and her brother, Teddy, of Blanchardville, react at the start of the movie "E.T." during a public viewing last year at The Edgewater's outdoor plaza in Madison. 

AMBER ARNOLD -- State Journal

The Edgewater hotel has done a lot to address a relatively small number of complaints about live music on its public plaza overlooking Lake Mendota in Downtown Madison.

It has voluntarily shut down its music by 9 p.m. It has concentrated its concerts on weekends. It started booking bluegrass instead of rock bands on Friday nights.

More recently, The Edgewater bought a band shell to help block sound from leaking into the surrounding neighborhood. The main speakers already point away from the street toward the lake and hotel.

Edgewater managers have participated in neighborhood meetings, where many Downtown residents recently praised the hotel’s record of providing fun and free events in a responsible way.

In other words, The Edgewater is trying hard to be a good neighbor while, at the same time, creating a popular destination for city residents and visitors.

The city’s Alcohol License and Review Committee and the full City Council should credit the hotel for its vibrant contribution to Downtown Madison since it reopened three years ago. A dramatic $100 million renovation greatly improved public access to the water and created a luxury hotel that expanded the city’s tax base.

Given its strong track record of success and accommodation, The Edgewater deserves permission to continue its live music series, which was shut down this summer following some noise complaints.

The Edgewater is offering to limit the decibel level of any music that reaches the street and nearby apartment building. It’s eager to try out its new band shell. The hotel also is open to reasonable suggestions from the ALRC, which meets tonight to consider granting a performing arts license.

The complaint from critics of The Edgewater years ago was that the public wouldn’t have enough access to the hotel’s plaza and lakefront. That worry has proven false. The Edgewater has catered its live music and outdoor movie nights to the public, quickly becoming a favorite spot along the lakefront.

Now the complaint seems to be the hotel is providing too much access to the public, creating a nuisance.

That’s unreasonable. This is Downtown Madison, after all, not a quiet residential neighborhood. The hotel sits on the corner of a busy intersection with lots of vehicle and foot traffic as well as college fraternities and sororities nearby.

A little music in the evenings of summer weekends shouldn’t be offensive, given the lengths The Edgewater is going to minimize unwanted sound. Remember: The hotel has to keep its 200 rooms of guests happy, too, and its main speakers are positioned toward the hotel’s tower, not the neighborhood. That’s a powerful incentive not to blast music too late or loud.

The Edgewater has been an asset for Downtown. City officials should grant the hotel a flexible entertainment license so its family fun can continue.

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