PDT Staff Writer
In response to recent noise complaints targeting the Columbia Music Arena in Portsmouth, owner Lee Scott said he is looking at options for putting retractable dome roof on the arena. One option might include asking the city of Portsmouth for a loan from its Business Revolving Loan Fund.
When the Columbia reopened at 832 Gallia St., with rock and country acts performing, a section of the roof was left open, and residents have complained to Portsmouth City Council that it allows the sound to amplify throughout the neighborhood. Now Scott is considering the possibility of installing a retractable dome roof on the facility.
“If we put a roof on it, it’s not going to be just a roof, we will have to put a sprinkler system in, an HVAC system among other things,” Scott said.
He said the total project cost would cost around $300,000.
“We built this thing as an arena, we kinda like it as it is. When you build something you like and your given permission to do it and then they come along later and tell you, you can’t do it after they gave you permission, that’s sad,” Scott said. “If they do not like what we did, they should give us a grant to replace their mistake not ours. I don’t think the Columbia should have to go in debt $300,000 to satisfy someone else.”
In addition possibly applying for the city’s loan program, Scott said he is looking at various other methods to fund the project.
“We are looking at grants, we are looking at a possible loan. We are trying to get everything together then we are going to decide what to do,” Scott said.
The issue of a possible noise ordinance was discussed during the mayors conference agenda at Monday night’s meeting of Portsmouth City Council. After some debate, council voted not to consider such an ordinance. Then the discussion turned to the Columbia.
Fourth Ward Councilman, and Columbia theater manager Jim Kalb, told council, “We’ve been trying to be good neighbors. We’ve been trying to get the concerts over by 11 p.m. There is nothing that requires the concerts to be over at 11 p.m. I’ve went up to the sound guy a couple of times and had the sound guy turn the sound down, when I thought it was obnoxious,” Kalb said. “We are not thumbing our nose at everyone, we are trying to operate a business and keep everyone happy.”
Sixth Ward Councilman Steve Sturgill asked why, if the theater was in any violation, did council until now to discuss it.
“The bottom line is, the city allowed the Columbia theater to open. If for what ever reason they violated any kind of code, they should have been stopped before they ever got open. I don’t know how any of us now can debate the merits of the noise,” Sturgill said.
Scott did not indicate when a decision would be made as to how he would move forward with the new roof project.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.