Friday, May 20, 2011

Muse Hotel Agrees to Silence Bellmen's Whistles

New York Times: The ear-piercing whistles of bellmen hailing cabs outside a hotel in Midtown Manhattan will torment neighbors no more. After a showdown with its neighbors on West 46th Street that has lasted months, the management of the Muse Hotel has promised to put away the whistles for good.

“Indeed, the whistling has stopped,” said John Turchiano, a spokesman for the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council. “A mutual agreement was reached; they were not looking to annoy neighbors.”

In March, people living on West 46th Street between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue began complaining about the whistles used to attract taxis, calling their sound an excessive, unnecessary noise that rose above the familiar clamor associated with life near Times Square.

“It’s just very obnoxious, very loud and very persistent,” said Leah Nelson in March, the prop master at the nearby Lyceum Theater. “It’s like Chinese water torture.” Neighbors complained that the whistles broke their concentration. Others said it disrupted services at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin across the street from the hotel.

Initially, the Muse’s management defended its bellmen and resisted calls for them to use flashing lights to hail cabs. The conflict even escalated to the point that one hotel employee left a menacing message on the voicemail of a man who had spoken out against the whistling.

The hotel management first announced the concession during a community council meeting on Tuesday night. The hotel’s management declined to comment on Thursday.

For now, the bellmen are hailing cabs using upraised fingers, “like everyone else,” Mr. Turchiano said. But one of those bellmen working on Wednesday was a little irked by having lost his whistle.

“It’s New York City!” said the bellman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because, he said, he had been instructed not to speak with reporters. “People don’t move here for peace and quiet.”

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