It’s déjà vu all over again, as the Open Space Alliance’s (OSA) summer concert series was met with a litany of noise complaints following an especially loud Counting Crows concert on July 17th.
When it was announced that the concert series would be moved one block, from East River State Park to Williamsburg Park at 50 Kent Avenue, many were concerned that the organization had not solved the noise issues from last summer. Sure enough, many residents reported hearing the noise miles away from the concert site.
“I live a mile from there and I have other neighbors who were able to hear it too,” said Sarah Lilley, who lives on Richardson Street between Graham and Humboldt. “I had all my windows closed and the air conditioning on I thought there was a car with their radio blasting just idling on the street. Then I realized I was just hearing the concert sounds from that far away.”
Other community members were able to make light of the situation, but made it clear that the noise was, well, deafening.
“I’m hard of hearing in one ear and my partner speaks really loudly. Even with the air conditioning I could still hear the concert,” said Reverend Jennifer Aull, co-Pastor of the Greenpoint Reformed Church.
Lilley said she called 311 to register a complaint that evening and apparently wasn’t the only one. OSA Chairman Steve Hindy said that he heard complaints from many community members including some OSA board members regarding the concert, and instructed the event’s promoters to make the necessary adjustments to the stage.
“The first concert, clearly the noise was intolerable, but until you cranked [the sound] up you didn’t know what was going to happen with that particular site,” said Hindy. “It’s a difficult site with all the buildings around. There were adjustments made for the second concert, and as I understand it, that improved things considerably and those adjustments will continue when the concerts resume.”
Details on the technical adjustments came from OSA Assistant Director Kurt Cavanaugh. “After the first show, we worked with our audio engineers to better contain the sound at 50 Kent,” he said. “It’s a new venue with new challenges. Since then, there have been two events and OSA has not received a noise complaint.”
Still, some local residents say the noise is only one of the issues from the concerts.
Meredith Chesney, a local business owner said, “The concerts benefit the attendees, the beer vendor, and maybe a few nightspots after the show lets out, at the expense of the locals near the venue,” said Chesney.
Chesney also expressed doubts that OSA took noise concerns of the neighborhood seriously.
“OSA was admonished already by [Community Board 1] about the direction and volume of the speakers on the stage. [Despite that], the new venue has them pointed due East into the neighborhood. Either OSA simply isn’t learning from their past mistakes or they don’t care.”
Time will tell, as the next concert at Williamsburg Park will be An Evening with Cake on August 10th. One thing is certain, if despite the noise adjustments, Greenpoint hears Cake, OSA will hear Greenpoint.