Three Town Board members and three police officers came to Eleanor Oakley’s home on Gardiners Creek to check out sound levels emanating from a concert at Sylvester Manor on Sunday evening.
Police Chief James Read and Detective Sergeant Jack Thilberg observed while Officer David McGayhey took readings from a decibel meter to measure the volume of sound coming from Kerry Kearney and the Unsung Heroes blues band across the water.
Councilmen James Colligan, Albert Dickson and Paul Shepherd, along with Manor Executive Director Stephen Searl and Reporter columnist Robert Lipsyte, were also present. The gathering was in response to Ms. Oakley’s letters to the Reporter and concerns she voiced to the Town Board about oppressive sound.
“I don’t like to call the police but this has become unbearable,” Mrs. Oakley said, adding she was pleased that everyone had come to listen.
The problem has stemmed from the fact that in the noise ordinance, charitable organizations are exempt from the noise level standards, and the Manor holds nonprofit fundraisers.
Chief Read said that normal ambient noise levels on a decibel meter are right around 45 to 47, and officials had told Sylvester Manor that they were capping this concert at 65.
On Sunday, readings were coming in for the different songs in the mid 50s.
Chief Read asked Officer McGayhey to return toward the end of the concert for more readings.
Councilman Paul Shepherd, Mr. Lipsyte and Ms. Oakley agreed that the music had gotten louder after the police and Mr. Searl left.
When Officer McGayhey returned and recorded readings at about 7:45 p.m., nothing had really changed. The background noise of wildlife and wind had increased, which made it difficult to get an accurate reading.
They were all in the 54 to 57 range, the chief later reported.
He cautioned that taking readings is often an inexact science, with many factors — including wind and sound moving over water, among others — that can affect sound readings in positive and negative ways.