By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Because police have begun receiving complaints from downtown residents about noise, the organizers of outdoor music events in the city are now being told to pull the plug by 11 p.m.
Ordinances that prohibit excessive noise in public have been on the books for decades, but not strictly enforced. In the past month, however, city officials began informing event organizers of the 11 p.m. music curfew.
Live music has been a regular part of downtown events for years, but noise had never been an issue. But in recent years, the downtown area has seen an influx of full-time residents — a byproduct of the center city’s rebirth as an entertainment and cultural center.
Anthony Farris, city law direc- tor, explained why noise ordinances are suddenly being enforced at outdoor events.
“There was a complaint from a downtown resident about music playing too late at a downtown event,” Farris said. “I don’t know which event. The [police] chief then set out to make sure the operators of subsequent events were aware of the ordinance.”
Farris said that while the noise ordinances have not changed, more of an effort is now being made to relay the requirements to individuals or entities seeking permits for events.
Several city ordinances deal with loud music and other sounds, but the one that specifically references an 11 p.m. curfew is section 509.10 of the Youngstown Code, according to Farris.
“The ordinance has been on the books for years,” said Police Chief Rod Foley. “We began recently having complaints from tenants residing downtown that these outdoor concerts have been excessively loud. Therefore, we [began to remind] individuals requesting permits of the ordinance requirements.”
The Vexfest rock festival Aug. 11 was among the first to be told to abide by the deadline. In past years, bands at Vexfest played outdoors until well after midnight.
Organizers of the Pabstolutely festival, which will be Sept. 7 at the Royal Oaks bar on the near East Side, also have been told that outdoor music must end by 11 p.m.
Last Saturday’s Arab-American Festival, downtown, also received a similar notice from the city.
City Councilwoman Annie Gillam, whose district includes both downtown and the Royal Oaks, said that she has heard no noise complaints. She added that if the city is enforcing the noise ordinance, it must be across the board for all events in all parts of the city.
Other downtown events in recent weeks that featured live music after 11 p.m. included the July 27 concert headlined by hip-hop star Juicy J on East Federal Street, and the Party on the Plaza events on Central Square on July 19 and Aug. 16. The final Party on the Plaza of the year will be tonight, but instead of a live band after 11 p.m., it will have a karaoke-type show.
The Greater Youngstown Italian Festival was Aug. 2-4, and the Spanish Heritage Festival was Aug. 17-18. Both events were downtown, but neither featured live music after 11 p.m.