ST. ALBANS CITY — The city council’s ongoing mission to quiet excessively noisy vehicles is a balancing act.
Council members brandished the official quieting campaign’s new signage at the city council’s meeting Monday night, even as they acknowledged finding the right message for the campaign’s outreach materials is a challenge.
“It’s a little tough to get the messaging right, to be honest,” City Manager Dominic Cloud told the council. “How do you speak clearly [and communicate] what you’re getting at with something that’s … so subjective, and personal.”
Cloud presented the council with signage for the city’s vehicle-quieting campaign late in the council’s meeting. Each sign prominently features the campaign’s central message, “Quiet Your Ride,” with various slogans up above: “We Love Good Neighbors,” “Neighborhood Zone,” “Keep Our City Livable.”
Councilor Kate Laddison agreed with Cloud’s perception of the messaging challenge, but said, “This feels like it strikes a nice balance.
“I think there’s enough people talking about this issue that people will take it on, put the signs out, start having those conversations, and it will begin a culture change.”
Councilor Mike McCarthy effectively began the council’s discussions regarding an anti-vehicular noise campaign in June when he shared his wife, Stephanie’s, idea for just that.
At Monday’s meeting, McCarthy thanked the council and city government for “coming up with a brand and a way for us to communicate in a friendly way, to our neighbors, a reminder that we’ll all do a little bit better if it’s quieter and things are slower in the neighborhoods.”
McCarthy said he hopes the campaign “inspires people to take their foot off the gas and maybe make people think twice about being quite so loud in the neighborhoods,” but he also said he believes solving the issue will take widespread cultural change.
McCarthy said there are accounts from communities across Franklin County, not just the City of St. Albans, of “people going too fast and being really loud,” an assertion any regular Messenger reader knows is true.
“It’s a cultural issue,” McCarthy said. He theorized increased police patrols combined with the city’s outreach campaign might affect that culture, “but we’ve got to have the conversations in the community to get people to drive a little slower and be a little quieter.
“I hope that this effort will help us have those conversations.”
Cloud told the council “several hundred” of the anti-noise lawn signs are now available at City Hall. Anyone is free to stop by and grab them. In fact, city officials urged residents to do so.
Cloud said the city is also launching a social media campaign in conjunction with the lawn sign distribution.
The social media campaign includes a humorous ad showing the adverse effects of vehicular noise — which, according to the ad, includes disturbing parkside ladies out for a stroll — as well as the positive effects of quieter rides, which, per the ad, includes the ability to enjoy the downtown community in peace on a sunny afternoon.
“This is a new venue for us to try to figure out how to get messages out,” Cloud said about the accompanying social media campaign. “I think we’ll continue to learn about it.”
In the meantime, he had a tongue-in-cheek idea for a more direct kind of outreach.
“Maybe you could stick one in your neighbor’s [yard], you know, maybe someone who’s an offender,” Cloud said, to the council’s laughter.
Council members said they would take signs home after the meeting.
Any resident interested can stop by City Hall on North Main Street, which is open 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Editor’s Note: Messenger Marketing is designing the city’s outreach materials for its quieting campaign.