Ludington council denies motion to allow attorney to address siren complaint.

March 1, 2022

Ludington council denies motion to allow attorney to address siren complaint.

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By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

LUDINGTON — During its regular meeting Monday, Feb. 28, City Council turned down a motion that would have allowed the city’s attorney to discuss a citizen’s complaint about the curfew siren that is located at Copeyon Park in the Fourth Ward. 

The siren was moved to Copeyon Park last year. It was previously located at the former fire station at the northeast corner of Loomis and Robert streets. Before paging technology, the siren was used to warn firefighters of an emergency. When firefighters heard the siren, they would respond to the fire station and then would be informed of the location of the emergency. Several other communities in the county had similar sirens. In the 1970s, radio pagers took the place of the sirens and most municipalities abandoned the use of the sirens. The City of Ludington continued to use the siren to announce the noon hour and to announce 10 p.m. curfew for children. It was removed when the fire station was turn down and the council chose not to place it at the new fire station on East Tinkham Avenue. After three years of not being active, the siren was installed at Copeyon Park. 

Jana and Nathaniel Rose live in an apartment on South Washington Avenue and have been outspoken about how the installation of the siren has triggered post traumatic stress in Nathaniel, a combat veteran. Jana Rose has spoken out at previous council meetings and spoke again Monday, threatening legal action. 

“Mr. Rose was shot, blown up and wiped the blood and brains off his fellow soldiers off his face,” she said. “In most of the world an air raid siren means danger is on the way. He only asks to not be reminded of the war at night.

“There is no detrimental purpose of the siren. Mr. Rose has not had a decent sleep since August,” she said. Rose said her attorney is claiming the installation of the siren is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Federal Fair Housing Act. 

“We don’t want to take it further but we will,” she said. “I’m embarrassed by the way my community can’t go past the way we have always done things. Please turn off the siren.” 

Rose directed several of her comments directly to Councilor Cheri Stibitz, who chairs the city’s cemetery, parks and recreation committee and is the Fourth Ward councilor. She claimed Stibitz had not responded to her requests to discuss the matter and claimed Stibitz called her on Christmas Day. After Rose’s comments, Mayor Steve Miller stated that comments should be directed to himself, the chair of the meeting, rather than individual councilors (though he allowed Rose to make comments toward Stibitz). 

Several other residents spoke in favor of the siren. 

George Peterson of Danaher Street, said he also was a veteran who had moved back to Ludington following his retirement. Peterson described the siren as a whistle and said it wasn’t an air raid siren. “It’s part of our small town DNA,” he said. “It’s disappointing when we start erasing our history in town.” 

Chuck Sobanski of Fourth Street said he was 83-years-old and didn’t have an issue with the siren. He questioned the council what would happen if people started complaining about the Fourth of July parade and fireworks or music in parks. “Seems like we all have something we can bitch about,” he said. 

Gary Lange of Third Street, who served on Ludington Fire Department for 45 years, said he lives very close to the siren and it doesn’t bother him. “My kids grew up with the siren,” Lange said. “When it went off at 10 O’clock I knew my kids would be home… It’s part of the community. It’s part of our lives.” 

The council later went into closed session to discuss the issue with its attorney, Ross Hammersley. After closed session, the council returned and Councilor Wally Cain made a motion to instruct the city attorney to negotiate with the Roses on the situation. The motion failed by a 4-3 vote. Councilors Cain, Jack Bulger, and Kathy Winczewski voted in favor of the motion while councilors Stibitz, John Terzano, Ted May, and Les Johnson voted against it.

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