Downtown tenants complain about live bands at Party on Plaza
Police chief questions validity of complaint
By David Skolnick
Residents at a downtown high-rise housing complex are complaining about the volume of live music at the nearby Party on the Plaza.
A petition signed by 38 residents at International Towers, a low-income apartment complex at 25 Market St., given to the police department and The Vindicator, asks that the city’s noise ordinance be enforced, particularly for Party on the Plaza events that occur twice a month during the summer.
But Police Chief Robin Lees questions the validity of the complaint.
“I have information that it’s an outgrowth of loud TV and stereo problems in the building,” he said. “Some tenants attached the Party on the Plaza to that noise issue. Party on the Plaza has been going on for years without any complaint from International Towers” residents.
Tenants say the chief is wrong.
Bobbie Desch, who signed the petition, said she’s had one issue with a loud television or stereo at International Towers in the six years she’s lived there.
“I dread Party on the Plaza; it drives me nuts,” she said. “They blast music too loud. I hate every minute of it during the summer. It keeps people up. It’s not about loud TVs and stereos. Party on the Plaza gets ridiculous.”
Mark Murphy, another International Towers resident who signed the petition, said, “Sleeping at night is tough” when there’s a Party on the Plaza event. “The noise is too loud. The noise is really bad, and it’s not related to loud TVs and stereos.”
The petition reads, in part: “The Party on the Plaza events utilizes bands who amplify their sound. These events create loud and/or offensive noise that disturb or keep me awake as I reside in the immediate vicinity. The music played at these events results in loud and excessive noise which jeopardizes my health, welfare and degrades the quality of my life.”
The petition wants the city to enforce an ordinance that prohibits excessive noise after 11 p.m.
City law prohibits loud noise after 11 p.m. that disturbs those living within 500 feet of “any building used as a private residence, apartment house or rooming house.”
Police enforced it last year after receiving complaints from downtown residents about outdoor concerts that played after 11 p.m.
Lees said the event has an assemblage permit that allows it to operate outside the noise ordinance.
Organizers of the event, sponsored by Warehouse 50, a bar and restaurant, were told to reduce the band noise after 11 p.m., and will do so, Lees said.
“We are in compliance and Party on the Plaza will go on as it has for the past 20 years,” said Scott Austalosh, who books bands and organizes the event.
“We agreed with the police chief to turn down the volume at 11 p.m.”
The next event is this Friday.
The police lieutenant in charge during the June 6 Party on the Plaza shut it down shortly after 11 p.m. because of the noise.
The officer mistakenly enforced the noise ordinance rather than follow the law related to assemblage permits, Lees said.
Mayor John A. McNally said, “We won’t keep the entire area awake, but we want to provide entertainment and opportunities for people to enjoy downtown.”
“What is the mayor and the police chief going to do about it? Nothing,” Desch said. “They’re just kind of blowing it off.”