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home : premium content : news May 29, 2016

12/26/2012 3:50:00 PM
Sound and lighting improvements planned for Festhalle
File photo
The Leavenworth City Council is considering options for improving the sound and lighting at the Festhalle. Options include sound panels for the walls and chandelier lights, to change the ambiance in the main hall.
File photo
The Leavenworth City Council is considering options for improving the sound and lighting at the Festhalle. Options include sound panels for the walls and chandelier lights, to change the ambiance in the main hall.

Ian Dunn

The Leavenworth City Council is considering serious upgrades to the lighting and sound in the Festhalle. At the Dec. 11 study session, the council considered recommendations by Todd Smith of Smith Syndicate for upgrades to the Festhalle.

In terms of the sound improvements, Smith recommended sound baffling panels, measuring 3-by-6 feet, covered with cotton fabric and a burlap material. City Administrator Joel Walinski said the public works department recommended placing the sound panels 10-feet above the floor for maintenance considerations.

The recommendation from Smith placed the sound panels anywhere from four to eight feet above the floor of the Festhalle. Councilman Bob Francis questioned whether moving the sound panels to 10 feet was a good move.

"If we are doing it just because we don't want people touching it, but it is not solving the problem," Francis said.

Walanski said placing the sound panels above 10 feet would make the sound better, but not like some concert hall. There will be some improvement, he said, doing as much as possible.

"Actually, Todd would say in phase two you need to do something on the ceiling. Some would suggest you do something on the floor," Walinski said. "We thought there would be a little trade off. Let's see how it works and how we put it together. Then, continue on."

Mayor Cheri Kelley Farivar pointed out the panels do provide some flexibility. The lower panels could be added at a later date, if necessary. The council will be provided with pieces of fabric used, in order to make a decision on color, which is currently an oatmeal.

In terms of lighting, Smith put together four different proposals. Option A would be to save the existing florescent lights. These lights could be dimmed down, Walinski said, but would burn out more frequently than it does now.

This would be the least expensive option, costing around $15,000.

"With florescent lights, you don't have to have them all-on or all-off. There are strips, so you could have one or two strips off. We can control them like that," Walinski said. "After talking with Dave (Schettler, city engineer), with the increased cost over maintenance. I would have to say our recommendation would be to move away from putting dimmers on the florescent lights."

Molohon said the lighting in the Festhalle is horrible for any event, even Oktoberfest.

When all the lights are on, it's gymnasium style lighting, conceded Walinski. He said you don't really have the space in the Festhalle to change that kind of lighting.

"Part of it has to do with the quality of the florescent lighting. Yes, you can turn a couple rows off so it gets a little darker, but the quality of the florescent lighting is still florescent lighting," Walinski said. "The suggestion was.. can we look at different options so we can create atmosphere with the lights? The ambiance wouldn't be for a stage production. The ambiance would be when there's private parties or Oktoberfest or Rotary auction."

Option B would add safety lighting on the walls. There would be all new lights with dimmers, and four to six chandeliers. Walinski said this option gives the most visual presence. All the other options don't impact the eyes at the same level, he said.

The chandeliers would drop down when necessary. Farivar felt, style wise, Option B was going to be more attractive. However, she needed to see some pricing before making a decision.

"Have those lights come down, then florescent lights on top will be our space lighting or gymnasium lighting," she said. "Then, if you have those chandeliers, which are not florescent but incandescent, they are a warmer light. I think that is going to balance the coldness."

Councilmen Tibor Lak and Elmer Larsen favored installing the sound panels first before deciding on the lighting. Farivar suggested a color change on the baffles, if the idea is to make the room warmer.

Walinski said placing the sound panels up first might make it more difficult to install the wiring for the new lighting.

"There are extra circuits in the electrical panels, not huge in terms of cost," Walinski said.

The council seemed to favor Option B for lighting, so the other two options were not considered. It was decided the council would look at fabric samples at an upcoming study session.

Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or

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