I was driving carpool when one of my passengers told my son he should do marching band next year. “It’s a lot of work,” he said, “but when they applaud at the end, wow, it’s a rush.”
Oh, that marching band could just be a simple, unadulterated pleasure. Unfortunately, nowadays, for our Stansbury neighbors, it’s not quite so simple. There’s the little issue of noise.
For a while, it seemed all was fine. The high school band compromised by practicing indoors until 7 a.m., but neighbors could still hear the band whenever the door opened. Late last year, the band booster club decided to request a noise ordinance change. Three marathon public meetings took place, after which the Tooele County Commission postponed their ruling (“Commissioners pass band issue back to district,” March 8).
I wasn’t there but I can well imagine the collective groan of frustration.
It’s tempting to point at a villain: the neighbors labeled as anti-band for complaining about the noise, the band parents seen as putting musical excellence above compassion for others, the county commissioners who seem to be dragging their feet.
But you know what? Behind every stereotype is a real person with legitimate concerns.
I visited with Monica Parks, a Stansbury band mom, last week. She was smiling, but her eyes were tired. The last two months have been a strain on her. She’s gotten some nasty phone calls. But she’s unfazed. In fact, she’s trying to get enough signatures by tax filing time to get the issue on the November ballot.
Why would one go through so much trouble? Because she wants the kids to be able to practice band with their heads held high in case a compromise isn’t reached.
Believe it or not, Tim Zeidner wants to support the marching band, but it’s hard in light of Parks’ petition. It bewilders him, in fact. He thought the neighbors and the band had almost reached a compromise.
Zeidner is dad to five kids 8 and younger. He is also the legislative vice president of the Rose Springs Elementary PTA, which opposes the noise ordinance change. He grew up with the Tooele High band practicing right in his backyard and now Stansbury High’s band plays in his growing family’s backyard.
He says he is not against the band and takes issue with those who label him an elitist when he and his neighbors are simply exercising their rights. He worries about their school’s young kids, who wouldn’t get enough sleep if the band starts at 6 a.m. In the past, sleep-deprived kids have had behavior problems. He worries about the elderly and those with medical issues.
“How could the band put a desire over a need?” he wonders aloud. But he holds out a peace offering: “6 a.m. lights, 7 a.m. noise” would be okay with him.
Lastly, there’s Jerry Hurst, who sits on the county commission. One could surmise the commission just wanted to pass the buck. But he said some parents wanted to try for one last compromise with the school district. In April, the commission hopes to tackle the issue once and for all.
Which brings us back to what, if any, common ground is shared by these people.
It should be about the kids: the band kids and the little kids. Focus on them, and there’s hope.
Jewel Punzalan Allen is a long-time journalist who lives in Grantsville. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.