Carbondale Mountain Fair neighbors worried about noise, crowds
Post Independent Staff
CARBONDALE — With the approach of this town’s biggest party of the year, the Carbondale Mountain Fair, a group of neighbors living near Sopris Park told the town board of trustees on Tuesday that they are not happy about the prospect of noisy nights and big crowds from Friday through Sunday.
The causes of their immediate complaints, the residents told the trustees, were a concert held last Sunday featuring headliner Bato Banton and the Now Generation, and the allegedly rowdy behavior on the monthly bicycle tour of town by an informal cycling group, the Full Moon Cruisers.
Mayor Stacey Bernot set aside a portion of the board of trustees’ meeting on Tuesday to deal with the question of music in Sopris Park, which she said came to her attention through “all the email traffic” received by her and other trustees early this week.
The issue of noise from Mountain Fair has been a perennial topic of debate since the event began 42 years ago, and it typically features complaints and concerns expressed by those who live near the park.
Bernot, said she felt the town staff and event promoters “have worked pretty well” to keep the neighbors happy, and in particular mentioned a meeting between the town and the neighbors in 2011 that was supposed to result in a lowering of the town’s current noise restriction for bands and similar events.
But, she continued, as has been pointed out to her by the emails, the town’s noise ordinance still permits music and other noises up to 100 decibels before police can step in and reprimand the noise makers.
“So, my apologies for not taking that additional step” following the 2011 meeting, Bernot told her critics in the audience.
But her critics were not entirely mollified.
“The music is too loud, and I go over and ask them to turn it down, and they don’t,” declared Diana Vaughn, who said she lives on Sopris Avenue.
Music from the park shakes her house and her windows, she said, to the point where people at her home can’t hear each other speak.
“It’s just really disrespectful,” she declared.
Another neighbor, sound engineer Bill Flanigan, works the sound booth at the Mountain Fair and other events at the park. He told the trustees, however, that even he sometimes feels the music gets too loud, particularly when it bothers his 11-year-old son.
But he told a tale of being “at the end of my rope” one Saturday night over the decibel levels of an event at the park.
He headed to the park to demand the music be turned down, he said, but got caught up in what he called the “energy and the passion” of the event and ended up dancing in front of the stage and having fun “with all this loud, distorted [music] going on.”
The moral of this tale, he said, is that those who feel frustrated by the music in the park should “get out of their house, get off their patio, and come down and experience that joy” felt by the revelers in the park.
Trustee Pam Zentmyer reassured those complaining that, this year, Carbondale police officers will have decibel meters on hand to measure the music and establish a “base line” for follow-up discussions after the fair, probably in September.
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