Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Movement afoot to limit the number of concerts in Tompkins Square Park

[Photo of Star Fucking Hipsters by Bob Arihood]

The full Community Board 3 meets tonight ... among the agenda items for their consideration: The number of weekend afternoon concerts in Tompkins Square Park.

The following is from a DRAFT AGENDA. THIS HAS NOT BEEN VOTED ON BY FULL BOARD AND is not a a CB resolution or position:

WHEREAS, the Parks Department permits concerts in Tompkins Square Park in an area very close to 7th Street; and

WHEREAS, there are apartment buildings with many families on 7th Street directly across from the concert area; and

WHEREAS, there is no structure to baffle the sound; and

WHEREAS, some concerts do not impact the neighboring areas, but others are extremely loud and assault the senses, including inside people’ homes; and

WHEREAS, the Parks Department formerly had a policy limiting the number of concerts each month, but now appears to book concerts without a plan and sometimes back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday; and

WHEREAS, formerly there were PEP, NYPD, and sometimes DEP monitoring, there currently is no enforcement or monitoring; and

WHEREAS, people in this area suffer from abnormal levels of noise pollution every weekend;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that CB 3 requests that the Parks Department return to some amplified sound-free weekends, schedule amplified concerts only one day per weekend, and, in addition, schedule some of the loud concerts in other areas where people will not be as impacted, such as East River Park; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Parks Department arrange for both PEP and DEP monitoring for potentially loud concerts (based on previous complaints and/or monitoring); and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Parks Department not schedule any loud concerts that have had complaints from the community directly across from residential areas, e.g., across from 7th Street, without providing or requiring a sound baffling structure.

[Howl! photo by Blue Glass]

CB3's Parks, Recreation, Cultural Affairs, Landmarks, & Waterfront Committee discussed this issue on Sept. 16. The Shadow's Chris Flash, who, along with several other people, have helped produced and promote shows in the Park since 1993, spoke at this meeting.

"I addressed the committee, assuring all that we are concerned neighbors who don't want to disturb our neighbors," Flash told me. "One thing we all could agree on was the suggestion that the Parks Department provide a portable barrier to direct sound away from the Seventh Street side of the park. I pointed out that when the Parks Department demolished the permanent Tompkins Square Park bandshell in 1992, we were promised the unlimited availability of a portable stage on a flatbed truck. This proved to be a lie."

As he said, the events that he and his friend produce in Tompkins Square Park individually and sometimes collectively raise important social and political awareness, celebrating the vitality of our neighborhood in the face of skyrocketing rents and gentrification driving out small businesses and long-time residents.

"We hope that we can resolve things before they get to the point of lawsuits and demonstrations, but we will not allow the use of our Park to be restricted by a self-appointed sound-nazi who has no authority to change or create policy or impinge upon the free speech of others," Flash said.

Meanwhile there are shows scheduled for Oct. 10, Oct. 23 and Oct. 24 that will go on as planned. Flash and company have already arranged on their own to create a sound barrier around the drum kits and to change placement of speakers so as to better direct sound away from Seventh Street.

Said Flash: "We want to respect our neighbors, but we don't want a fucking police state to arbitrarily enforce sound limits on music that some may not find appealing."


Jill said...

I wish I could go tonight, this will be a good debate but alas I cannot.

I am unclear about who is proposing that resolution - is it the Parks Committee of the CB? Was the vote at the committee meeting to bring this resolution in front of the full board unanimous?

glamma said...

rock on chris! we got your back!

EV Grieve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
EV Grieve said...

Typo! Again...

Ah! Good question Jill. From what I understand, Susan Stetzer, who said that she had been receiving complaints about noise from the concerts, submitted a draft proposal ... and made a motion for her proposal to be passed by the six members of the CB3 sub-committee. Four went along, one voted against and the last abstained.

This goes beyond Tompkins Square Park ... I heard that the woman who leads drum circles in the garden at Sixth Street and Avenue B was told by city officials to stop due to noise complaints.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if there was a more diverse lineup of bands. It's all punk rock. There are people in the East Village who love salsa, jazz, etc. It is like one group of music lovers is dominating the park. Get some more music producers/promoters involved.

Lula said...

Are any shows staged at night? I don't understand how anyone can complain about a day concert.

I live next to Tompkins Square Park, and I support all cultural activities there.

I can't attend any meeting. Is there another way I can voice my opinion? Thanks.

EV Grieve said...

Thanks for the comment, Lulu.

Here's the CB3 page with contact info:


The shows I go to are usually 2-6 p.m. Saturday or Sundays.

Tom said...

This is hilarious! All the complaints I've been reading here about noisy bars and noisy college kids and how this bar shouldn't get a license and that restaurant needs to be shut down. Did any of you not see that eventually they would come for the concerts and the community artists? Sound Nazi's indeed! Good luck with the monster you helped create.

blue glass said...

problems of noise in TSP have been present since the homeless encampment and then the drummers. it is unfair for folks that live alongside the park to have to endure loud noise all weekend, even if they shut down in the late afternoon or evening. park concerts do not have to be amped up to the highest levels. we have 3 TNC street fairs on 10th street. they used to be very very loud until the community board helped the residents and called for some compromise on the volume. now it is just loud. it is possible to have fun without losing your hearing. not everyone likes the same music, artwork, color, etc. we all have to endure each other. we do not have to punish each other.

Our Lady of Perpetual PMS said...

Hey Everyone,
Firstly, how can anyone compare this to obnoxious college bars and all the noise and utter disrespect that goes along with THAT monster? These shows are from 2 til 6pm on a Saturday on Sunday!! And there are only about an average of TWELVE of them from May through September, plus there is no booze allowed in the park!
I co-produce 2 shows there per year, and really hope I can continue to do so! One is the last weekend of June and called ALPHA WOMEN ATTACK THE LES! The other is the upcoming one on Sun, Oct. 24th: HALLOWEEN FREAKFEST. I'm only including the facebook link to show you its' diversity. I call mine "punk and variety" shows, which they are. This year I have a guy who plays the world's largest xylophone (he's had a 10 yr. residency playing in Coney Island.), a visiting surf rock band from Chicago, etc. Even our resident "dirty folk rock" performer choses material that is not disrespectful to children.
Well whatever, I only put that there to share, I don't feel like I have anything to prove. I enjoy diversity, & while I love punk I listen to all kinds of stuff. And I would never tell other producers what to book. I support all these shows. I'm into all the bands and there are other kinds of music shows produced such as the Charlie Parker Fest, HOWL!, etc.
Yup, as for right now, there is no portable stage/sound barrier provided. It would CERTAINLY help to buffer the drum kit - which is unable to have have its' sound levels reduced.
Just a little help via a portable stage and sound buffers would solve this. Anyone involved w/these shows what a tremendous amount of work go into them. It would be nice to just have a tiny bit of support.
It was the FIRST unbearably hot day of the year in June for my ALPHA WOMEN SHOW this year. It was insane not to have a covered stage. I got sun poisoning despite being covered w/sun screen. I feel like I can't ask other performers to be in that environment again.
Did anyone notice the screeching of several poems into mics @ the HOWL? (I was sitting all the way over in the dog run and couldn't tolerate the sounds of the screaming!!) Probably no one noticed the nude male burlesque on the following rain-soaked Sunday afternoon? Why aren't these larger, more corporate productions being persecuted like we are??
So help us out w/some buffer/barriers or a covered stage already. But I'll put off my work deadline and come to the Community Board meeting tonight. I'm guessing it will be fun times for sure. (Eye roll!)

blue glass said...

i guess i didn't read flash's comment closely enough because i missed the "... but we will not allow the use of our Park to be restricted by a self-appointed sound-nazi who has no authority to change or create policy or impinge upon the free speech of others," Flash said.
his park? what happened to our park? sounds like he is the wanna-be sound-nazi?
nobody is restricting free speech, only the volume it goes to. and that goes for every event. the level of the volume can drive a resident out of their home.

Anonymous said...

There is a sound limit which is enforced by the Police Dept. This makes no sense. Once again the "entitled people" are speaking shit.
The noise-puking etc. from the bars are much worse-what about them??

Jill said...

I'm not sure that the mess the sheer number of bars and the dense saturation we have in our neighborhood is linked to the lack of a bandshell in TSP, which creates its own set of problems for the neighbors of the park.

Seems like it would be easily solved by a bandshell, or noise protection system, which we lost years ago. All it takes is money, right?

If we can get a bandshell, maybe at the same time we can find a similar system that takes the 3am drunk screamers and wraps them in a soundproof, vomitproof area also.

Anonymous said...

Blue Glass is an entitled moron.

blue glass said...

Our Lady of Perpetual PMS said...
Firstly, how can anyone compare this to obnoxious college bars and all the noise and utter disrespect that goes along with THAT monster?

easy, the volume alone shouts disrespect for those that don't appreciate it. and it doesn't matter how many there are as much as how loud they are.
i guess the fact that you produce two shows makes them all ok. and you like them so everyone else should too. produce as many as you can, just keep the volume down.
everyone can't appreciate all the "music" but we can all live with it when it's not bombarding our homes and our ears. whatever it is.

chris flash said...

The events that I co-produce in Tompkins Square Park with our friends and allies are spread over a six month period, and run from 2pm to 6pm. That time frame doesn't wake anyone in the morning and doesn't prevent them from sleeping at night.

Still, out of respect for our neighbors, we have already taken steps on our own to muffle sound from drums and speakers. All without the intervention of a one person crusader claiming to speak for the entire stretch of East Seventh Street.

Since that Community Board sub-committee meeting, we have discovered that in order to bolster her claims, Ms. Stetzer has been making false noise complaints from persons who don't exist.

When challenged by the head of the Ninth Precinct to produce names and contact info on these alleged complainants so that their "complaints" could be verified, Stetzer failed to do so.

Stetzer even went as far as using a ranking fellow community board member's name on a noise complaint. When contacted by the Parks Dept, this person vehemently DENIED making any such complaint!!

We clearly have ONE person here attempting to create a fuss where
none has existed before. If it wasn't allegation of noise in city parks, it would be something else for this misfit malcontent.

We have put on events in Tompkins Square Park every year since the park reopened in 1993 without a single problem. We have a good relationship with the Parks Dept and with the local police precinct.

We love our neighborhood (we're here for LIFE), we love OUR park (we've fought long and hard to keep it free) and we respect our neighbors.

The shows WILL go on!!!!

chris flash said...

Hey Blue Grass,

You just posted this comment:

["... but we will not allow the use of our Park to be restricted by a self-appointed sound-nazi who has no authority to change or create policy or impinge upon the free speech of others," Flash said.
his park? what happened to our park? sounds like he is the wanna-be sound-nazi?]

Where the fuck did I say it's MY park? Are you stupid or something?

Sounds like YOU have an agenda of your own!!

Laura Goggin Photography said...

Bring back the bandshell. TSP is a public park, these shows are outdoors and open to the public. They last only 4 hours shut down at 6pm. I can't believe there are noise complaints. C'mon, this is getting ridiculous. Are musical shows only to be performed inside and auditorium now?

glamma said...

why the F*CK would you move next to the PARK if you DON'T want to live next to a PARK? Seriously people, it's a free world. Fascist @ssholes. The frats and the yups play for the same team, and they are aggressively trying to take over the EV. You guys realize that, right? Stuff like this should be taken very, very seriously...

Anonymous said...

Maybe Stetzer is pulling something shady, and the interests of the many who enjoy the shows should certainly trump one person's interest. But I don't like the attitude of Flash in the quotes given in the body of the article, which amount to: "We'll say we want to respect our neighbors, but we're gonna do whatever we want to do and call anyone who thinks that we're too loud a nazi".
How loud do your sets have to be? It's not like there's a crowd 300 feet away from the stage that you need to project sound to. Sounds an awful lot like the narcissist bar owners/college kids who say "don't like the noise? you don't deserve to be in the neighborhood/move to the suburbs", as if TSP and the neighborhood didn't exist before punk rock.

I see in further comments that you've taken steps to minimize the noise produced by your shows. I certainly applaud that - in a community, we should all strive to accommodate each other - but is your attitude "we've done what we're going to do, and if it still bothers the neighbors, tough"? It seems like this is a pretty straightforward collision of self-interest: the self-interest of neighbors who don't want to be disturbed by your music, and the self-interest of yourself, who wants to play play the music you love, and your fans, who want to listen to the music they love. I don't think anybody is against having the shows in it of themselves, just the volume. And while it would be better for the city to expend resources and give a bandshell or other piece of equipment that could reduce noise, in the absence of that, labelling everyone who wants the volume reduced "entitled" shows you feel you're just as entitled as they are. This neighborhood isn't just for people who moved here in the 80s cause they loved the Ramones.

Anonymous said...

And what is Blue Glass-who is hiding behind that name?

blue glass said...

one would move next to a park because it's beautiful, a place with tree-cooled fresher air. a place to sit and appreciate whatever it is you're into, a place for quiet reflection, reading, any behavior that does not impinge on others.
or a place to take your children and/or dogs for a peaceful afternoon of play.
however, in this age of get what you want while you can mind-set it is hard to do almost anything without it bothering someone else. maybe i live in the past when the parks were an oasis not a battleground and everyone was quieter.
and chris you're right, it sounded like you were talking about your park, you did indeed say "our". sorry. the rest of my comment stands.
and my agenda is just to be left alone to live here in some sort of peace without a constant bombardment by assholes.

Anonymous said...

Have your concert but keep the volume down. The punk rock bands are crap. It sounds like someone is strangling a cat.

Anonymous said...

"The frats and the yups play for the same team,"

Yeah, and they take all the coolest seats in the cafeteria!!!

chris flash said...

Concerts in Tompkins Square Park are not limited to punk. I attend jazz events, the HOWL Festival, performances by Theater for The New City and sometimes even the Christian rockers. The shows I co-produce go beyond punk. We've had political speakers, feminist rockers, poetry readers, folkies and many other artists and performers. This park is for everyone, not just those who like what THEY like and everyone else be damned!!

It really gets my goat when monied transients decide to grab a trendy apartment or townhouse in the Tompkins Square area and then have the balls to impose their views and eliminate what others have been doing in the park for decades before.

Examples: Gentrifiers, real estate speculators and their shills created the Tompkins Square Neighborhood Coalition (operating out of a luxury apartment house that formerly provided low-income housing, on Avenue B, between 8th + 9th Streets) and attacked the dog run in the park because they didn't like the smell of dogs or the occasional barking. They succeeded in getting the dog run moved to where it is now.

They also tried to eliminate the bongo playing on Sundays because they didn't like that sort of music. They failed.

In 1988, they got the Community Board to quietly vote on an illegal curfew for Tompkins Square Park to be enforced without any new law or regulation being passed. The NYPD vigorously enforced this illegal curfew by beating parkgoers with nightsticks on the weekend of July 30, 1988. A week later, on the evening of August 6, 1988, the NYPD built up an army of cops and beat the crap out of hundreds of people in and outside of the park!! (Does anyone remember this? I do, as I was there!!)

It also bugs me when some miserable person with lots of extra time on his/her hands who has no meaningful life to speak of tries to pull the same shit.

Now comes Susan Stetzer. Like the gentry scum before her, she feels that she can impose her preference on others in the park. When pressed by the SHADOW, Stetzer admitted that she enjoys the Charlie Parker Festival (our reading of this show in August was 110db) but dislikes the punk shows (the last show we co-produced in August was 70db).

This is obviously not about sound level and, as already demonstrated in my previous post here, Stetzer is the ONLY complainant about music levels that she calls "noise" and is using fraudulent means to bolster her claims.

We are not imposing our views and desires on others. We are using our park responsibly. If we hear legitimate complaints about sound, we will respond accordingly out of respect for our neighbors.

nygrump said...

those stupid drummers should be buried in deep hole. what a bunch of arrogant tools ejecting their noise pollution on everyone. I'm very sympathteic to the punks but it really is a cultural nostalgia trip at this point. Rabia friggin slay.

Anonymous said...

I would rather they did something about the Hare Krishnas who parade up and down my block banging drums every freaking night. I would like them to be free to practice their religion but perhaps there is a quieter way to do it?

Jill said...

I went to the CB3 meeting hoping to hear what both sides had to say, but not one member of the community came to speak out to protest the resolution. Not one. I had to leave before the board discussed, but at that point, community members are no longer allowed to speak. Missed opportunity for those who support music in the park, or lobbying to get a bandshell built.

Jill said...

Chris - as far as getting proof from the police about anything, that is a weak argument. I don't defend whether the noise complaints are real or not, but the 9th isn't where anybody will get any satisfaction for anything, ever.

Whether there really are complainers or not I wouldn't stake my refutation of the issue on getting proof from the police. First, they don't track noise complaints (311 is supposed to do that) and 2nd, they don't respond to noise complaints. Just this past weekend when I called the 9th sometime in the wee hours of Saturday morning about a very loud and amplified event going on outside my window, they told me to call 911. (!)

glamma said...

the vast majority of noise problems in the east village come from the yups/frats/B&T etc who come to party and woo the f*ck Hoo. That this situation goes on unbridled and unchallenged (9th precinct does ABSOLUETLY NOTHING to the bars or groups responsible) and we are sitting around picking on a few punk shows that are held with the UTMOST consideration is just absolutely ridiculous. The fact that it FLEW THROUGH without so much as a blink tells you about the politics involved, the powers that be. if anything, bands like STAR F*CKING HIPSTERS, DETER the monied ignorants who swarm upon the hood all weekend long. This is an exytremely unwise attempt to in fact execute the guard dogs. It is clear whose side Susan is on. It is clear what the agenda is. ANd it's a crying f*cking shame for all those who care about preserving the integrity and spirit of the east village.

chris flash said...

Hi Jill,

I agree that the NYPD is not very responsive to excessive noise complaints, most likely because they feel that noise is not a crime.

I was just reporting that Stetzer made a false report to the NYPD about "noise" in the park, using the names of non-existent people (or real people who have no knowledge of their names being mis-used by Stetzer).

30 year resident said...

Has anyone who actually lives on the block of E. 7th across from the park authored the resolution? If not, then everyone is argueing about a lie. But politics, even micro/local politics is frequently built of lies, and I'm not telling anyone anything new by saying so. So let's all first defend the neighborhood from the lies.

As for the rest of the posts here, they all break down to the stock American debate based on class and race (getting rid of the 'bongo' players comes from the routinely misinformed attitudes aimed at a cultural activity practiced in the park mostly by people of color, drumming).

If someone wants to compalin about the biggest source of noise in the park, fact is, the most routine, frequent, on-going, persistent source of noise in the park is families with children who get concentrated in the enclosed playground areas. This source of noise is everyday and peaks after 3PM when local schools let out. How come no one is complaining about the families with children who cause the most routine and persistent noise in the park? The concerts and other large public events in the park are insignificant sources of noise compared to the families with children.

The park is actually administered and controlled in a quite rational and reasonable way (by NYC standards) at the current time. Currently, there is an acceptable level of tollerance by the authorities most of the time.

The antisocial factor in this situation is the person, or few persons, who are instigating the move to attack the social well-being created by the park as it is currently administered and run. Apparently, Scrouge doesn't sit in the park sucking on a lemon, but does their ill will towards the rest of humanity from a seat on the very board charged with protecting civility. Typical New York, forever attacking itself.

I'm heading over to the park now. To play my drum. For which, once, years ago, I was written a civil summons when a wealthy resident who lives on B collared a cop and literally forced her to cite me. This was done while the bus stood fifty feet away, and a lot closer to the rich person's apartment, making eight times more noise than my drum. And it took the cop plus eight of her co-workers AND a Lieutenant, over ten minutes to find the correct serial number for the particular infraction I was being cited for so they could actually fill out the summons. Seems the history of reasonable, rational tollerance in the park was not going to be tollerated anymore.