Metropolitan Park concerts not sweet music to ears of local residents

Metropolitan Park concerts not sweet music to ears of local residents
Neighbors Erik Kaldor, Gary Ulrich, Mary Jo Pickett and Mark Otterbourg are concerned about noise levels from some Metropolitan Park events. “People don’t have an appreciation for how sound travels over the water with nothing to impede it,” stated Kaldor.

Neighbors Erik Kaldor, Gary Ulrich, Mary Jo Pickett and Mark Otterbourg are concerned about noise levels from some Metropolitan Park events. “People don’t have an appreciation for how sound travels over the water with nothing to impede it,” stated Kaldor.

City Council to monitor sound levels

St. Nicholas residents want their voices heard as concerns about the noise generated from mega events in Metropolitan Park grows louder.
Dozens of residents showed up for the Apr. 2 meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Metropolitan Park to express concerns about Ordinance 2013-166 which would extend the entertainment zone to include Metropolitan Park, thereby removing current noise ordinances which neighbors say are vital to protecting the quality of life in their neighborhoods.  The committee was formed by City Council to review recent noise issues at Metropolitan Park, and determine a way to improve compatibility with surrounding neighborhoods while preserving the cultural and recreational value of the park.

“Metropolitan Park was never designed to be a concert venue,” said Erik Kaldor, a St. Nicholas resident for 24 years. “It was supposed to be a passive park for the people of Jacksonville to have a place to enjoy the river. It was not intended to accommodate these huge concerts with multiple stages.”

District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer introduced an emergency bill that was approved by the Ad Hoc Committee which will waive penalties and fines for violation of the noise ordinance for sound emanating from the park during upcoming ticketed events through May 11. In addition, the bill requires the City to monitor sound levels in the park and impacted residential areas.

“Currently we don’t have a lot of data. The waiver will give us time to monitor sound levels for various events,” Boyer said. “It will be very interesting to see what sound level is produced and how it is perceived at different points.”
Neighbors intent on protecting quality of life are concerned about music levels and profanity being blared at 90 decibels. “People don’t have an appreciation for how sound travels over the water with nothing to impede it,” Kaldor said. “I woke up at 7:30 in the morning to boom, boom, boom shaking the walls of my house. When I contacted [District 8] Councilwoman [Denise] Lee’s office an aide told me that was the sound check to an upcoming concert.”

During events where sound measurements will be monitored, Kaldor is urging residents to report excessive noise by calling the police non-emergency number, contacting District 4 Councilman Don Redman, or posting to the group’s Facebook page JaxPop.
Redman reiterated the importance of having neighbors voice their concerns about excessive sound and vulgar language. “I want people to call if they have complaints,” Redman said. “They know they’ll hear from me, but this is the time for them to hear from residents.”
Former councilwoman and 25-year resident of St. Nicholas Ginny Myrick said “There is clearly a difference between what has historically been produced and what certain promoters want to produce.  These 10-12 hour concerts of multiple-day events are markedly different than past events.”

“We are not against events at Metropolitan Park,” explained Gary Ulrich a 40-year South Shores resident who says big concerts at Metropolitan Park are a grave concern for the neighborhood. “But it was not designed as an amphitheater to accommodate the big noise and the big acts.”

Residents have been through this fight before when 15 years ago they organized Citizens for Amphitheatre Awareness, hiring lawyers and commissioning studies to keep a proposed amphitheater from being built in the park. “Ultimately Federal/State legislature laws trumped the idea for an amphitheater,” explained Myrick, who said it is really just a few multiple-stage concert events that are the problem.
One such act that will take place while the noise ordinance is waived is the Welcome to Rockville music festival which, according to a press release from promoters, is the first of five festivals to encompass “The World’s Loudest Month.”

If the past is any indication, St. Nicholas residents aren’t going to passively listen without raising some noise of their own.

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