NIAGARA FALLS – Like clockwork for the past six months, an unexpected bit of music – the University of Iowa fight song – has been playing from the second-floor window of a vacant building on Third Street. But rather than the rousing cheer that might greet the song in the Midwest, in downtown Niagara Falls it has just been annoying residents as it plays over and over again every night.
And why it keeps playing remains a mystery.
With the University of Iowa nearly 800 miles away from Niagara Falls, the motive for this unusual anthem coming from speakers aimed from the building at 500 Third St. is unclear. But the fight song is creating annoyed residents who are brewing for their own fight.
Neighbors say they just want the city to take some action to just make it stop.
Across the street at the upscale bistro Wine on Third, owner Shawn Weber said the marching song starts at 3 p.m. and continues to 11 p.m. every night.
“They play it for 50 seconds over and over again. I could sing it to you almost by heart,” he said. Neighbors estimate the song plays nearly 500 times each night.
Weber said they’ve tried to stop it, but found the music is not violating a noise ordinance.
“It is ridiculously annoying,” he said.
Weber said it also has affected his business, especially when it started in the summer. He said it discouraged people from using the restaurant’s outdoor patio.
Wine on Third chef Kevin Robertson is also a tenant above the restaurant and is affected even more than the customers.
“I live upstairs. It’s driving me crazy,” Robertson said, noting he has talked to police and judges to try to get it to stop, but to no avail.
He said he hears the song ver and over again in his head.
“I can’t override it. I turn my TV up, turn my stereo up and close the windows,” Robertson added. “It is definitely being done with malice.”
As the music continues relentlessly, no one is talking, least of all building owner Joe “Smokin’ Joe” Anderson.
The building is owned by Thunderfalls LLC, which lists its business address as Saunders Settlement Road in Sanborn at Smokin’ Joe’s Trading Post, which sells untaxed cigarettes and gasoline. Thunderfalls also used to operate a bar on Third Street, Club Malibu.
Weber said he has tried to talk to Anderson.
Anderson also was contacted by phone by The Buffalo News on Tuesday, but he immediately hung up the phone when asked to discuss the fight song.
Weber said his partner’s brother had “some kind of dealing with Joe.” Weber said he wasn’t sure if things went bad, leading to some animosity.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster and Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto also are investigating and are aware of the problem.
“We have received complaints,” said Dyster, noting that it will come before the City Council at its next meeting on Feb. 8.
“I can tell you we are not happy about it. It seems like a deliberate attempt to disrupt other businesses on the street,” the mayor said.
DalPorto said the Police Department hadn’t received any noise ordinance complaints and in the meantime, Dyster said they are trying to find an existing ordinance that will allow the city to stop the music.
But other businesses may not be as affected. Nearby at Donatello’s, a pizza parlor a few doors down, owner Steve Donna said he really hasn’t heard the music, although he said sometimes his customers have commented.
Weber said perhaps the unwanted attention will draw customers to his business.