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Tryst refutes accusations of being a bad neighbor

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Tryst Gastro Lounge, the booming nightlife mecca on Beach Drive, is firing back against recent accusations that the business was a “bad neighbor.” During a City Council meeting earlier this month approving an updated noise ordinance, several residents and some council members specifically referenced Tryst as the center of the noise problem downtown.

No other business was directly referenced in that meeting.

“We work very closely with the city of St. Petersburg to comply with the latest noise requirements,” the business wrote in an email to SaintPetersblog repudiating statements referenced in a post following the vote.

During that meeting St. Pete City Council finally came to consensus after more than a year of trying. The update requires bars and restaurants with outdoor noise projection to point the speakers toward its customers, not toward its neighbors.

Specifically, the ordinance requires the speakers to be permanently mounted and be directed away from residences.

The issue came up after a number of downtown St. Pete condo owners complained about booming noise from neighboring establishments well into the night.

An original ordinance proposed by City Council member Karl Nurse would have been far more strict requiring businesses to move speakers inside after 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends. That measure was stalled last Spring when business owners and their employees complained the ordinance would be bad for business.

Council members Steve Kornell and Jim Kennedy, who backed the latest measure, initially hit the pause button worried onerous restrictions would stifle the burgeoning downtown nightlife scene. However, those were the two City Council members to accuse Tryst of being a bad neighbor.

Kornell recalled an instance in which he went to Tryst one night and asked about the smaller speakers and toned down noise. He said he was told by an employee that the city was watching the establishment closely, but to wait a few weeks and the party would be back. Based on that interaction, Kornell called the business “sneaky.”

In its email, Tryst said they spoke with the employee Kornell referenced and learned the conversation was more than a year ago. They said the statement was taken out of context and was made as a joke.

During noise ordinance discussion Kennedy accused the business of not taking adequate measures to keep the sidewalk clear as required in City Code.

“This statement is not correct. We try very hard to make sure that the sidewalks are clear. However, our restaurant is smaller compared to others, so a party of 10 will crowd the sidewalk upon entering,” Tryst emailed.

Tryst neighbors The Cloisters condominiums. The majority of residents pushing a revamped noise ordinance were residents there. That group also specifically referenced Tryst.

However, there are plenty of other downtown bars and nightclubs that could be affected by the noise ordinance. Those locations, however, have the benefit of not being within earshot of condo-owners trying to catch some shut eye.

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Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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