Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – The air-raid siren which has alerted Arcata to the advent of lunchtime for decades is not going away. It will continue to startle downtowners for years to come, thanks to Greenway Partners planners.
The siren's planned demise, and replacement with a vintage bell, was part of the Arcata's Fire Protection District's realignment, which includes refurbishment of the downtown fire station at Ninth and F streets. The project is being overseen by Greenway Partners planners.
The siren, sometimes called a whistle, holds fond memories for Arcatans who have grown up with it and consider it part of the town's gestalt.
"The whistle heralds back to a bygone era when many whistles blew at noon from Arcata's many mills," wrote Siddiq Kilkenny, petitioner. "It also trumpets the commitment and courage of many years of volunteer services performed by our community members. It is one of the things that makes Arcata unique in a positive way."
Kirk Cohune, Greenway principal, says his firm will purchase the siren from Arcata Fire and relocate it downtown. "We're working with people downtown to find a new home for it," Cohune said.
At last night's Arcata City Council meeting, new possible spots for the siren were discussed, These include City Hall, the Arcata Branch Library and Jacoby's Storehouse. "Those are a few of the folks we've been talking with," Cohune said. "If the city wants to take it, I think everyone would be happy with that."
Cohune said he was looking into possible permitting and easement requirements, and would make sure those are satisfied. If possible, he'd like the siren service to continue uninterrupted.
"We want to make it seamless so it continues to ring every day," he said, "to provide the community with this legacy that it wants."
Cohune was just as excited about Arcata Fire's vintage bell being restored and replaced. "It will be back on the building where it belongs," he said.
Arcata Fire Chief Desmond Cowan will be a guest on tonight's KHSU 90.5 FM Thursday Night Talk, with the latest on the siren.