Updated: Middlebush Park Speaker Use By Pop Warner Once Again Sparks Noise Complaints

Middlebush Park1

Temporary speakers used at Pop Warner football games at Middlebush Park were once again the topic of a discussion by the Township Council.

Update: The FR&A has obtained copies of police reports from the Oct. 4 and 11 noise complaints See below.

The Pop Warner football league’s use of speakers at Middlebush Park was once again a topic of discussion at a Township Council meeting.

Some council members at the Oct. 13 meeting expressed frustration over repeated noise complaints called in by the park’s neighbors on Oct. 4 and Oct. 11.

The council chamber was the scene last year of several tumultuous meetings over the speakers. Neighbors and Pop Warner supporters showed up in force for a number of meetings, with neighbors opposing the use of speakers to call the football games, and Pop Warner supporters saying the speakers are a necessary part of the game.

In the end, a compromise was reached after sound checks were done in several yards adjoining the park, located off DeMott lane. It ewas agreed that the permanent speakers would not be increased over a certain volume, and that the volume control for the speakers would not be readily accessible.

The problem is that the permanent speakers have not yet been ordered, and the temporary speakers that were being used were stolen earlier this year.

The replacement speakers are the ones causing the latest controversy.

Township Councilman Carl R. A. Wright (D-Ward 4) and township manager Robert Vornlocker were on-scene on Oct. 4 to gauge the noise level. Wright said at the Oct. 13 council meeting that Vornlocker noticed that the speakers were pointed in the wrong direction.

Wright said that on Oct 11, the speakers were pointed in the correct position, toward the playing field. He said that he had the volume raised just to the point where people sitting in the visitors’ stands could hear what was being said.

“The crowd noise was louder than the music,” Wright said. “I can’t control the crowd.”

“Once we bring in that new sound system, things will change,” he said.

Also at the park on Oct. 4 and 11 were various township police officers, summoned by neighbors who made a handful of noise complaints.

For example, at about 11:50 a.m. on Oct. 4, police Lt. Darrin Russo was sent to a Charles Street home, which abuts the park, when the owner complained of being able to hear the loudspeaker from the football game.

In his report, Russo said he walked to the home’s back porch, where he could hear “whistles and loud cheers coming from the park along with a voice coming from a PA system.”

Russo told the homeowner that he would ask them to lower the PA volume, according to his report.

Russo spoke to a person in the announcer’s booth – whose name was redacted by township police prior to releasing the report – who said he was in charge, according to the report. Russo said he told the person that the PA system needed to be lowered, to which the person said the volume was at its lowest, adding that Councilman Wright asked that it be raised because people on the other side of the field could not hear.

Russo said he reiterated that the volume needed to be lowered because he could hear it from the Charles Street resident’s home.

About two hours later, Russo reported, he returned to the Charles Street home on another noise complaint. He said that while standing on the resident’s porch, he could hear music being played over the PA system, which was “loud at times.” Russo noted that the sound from the PA was “louder than my first appearance earlier in the day.”

Another township police officer, Lt. Mark Reiner, arrived to take sound-level tests, which showed a decibel level of 62.6, according to his report. The threshold for a noise violation is 65 decibels.

Township Councilwoman Roz Sherman (D-Ward 2) said she was “disturbed” by the fact that the speakers were once again causing a problem for residents.

“Pop Warner can’t seem to get it under control,” she said of the speakers’ volume.

Sherman said she and Vornlocker will be at the park for the Oct. 18 games “to see what the issues are.” Wright said that he, too, will be at the park to handle any noise complaints.

Although the council voted last year to allow a permanent speaker system in the park, the system has just gone out to bid. As a result, the speakers probably won’t be available until next season.

Vornlocker said the delay was caused by delays in further testing of sound levels. He said Councilman Phil Kramer (D-Ward 3) at the last council meeting pushed for the system to go out to bid without more tests.

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