Monday, June 27, 2011

Woodhaven Sounds Off About Noise in City Council Testimony

The Woodhaven Residents' Block Association has submitted written testimony to a New York City Council committee, supporting proposed legislation that would increase fines for residential noise while also urging the City Council to consider other options for tackling this problem.

The testimony draws upon dozens of residents' responses to a Block Association questionnaire. Overwhelmingly, Woodhaven residents say that noise conditions have adversely affected their quality of life, that not enough is done to handle noise complaints, and that noise conditions have worsened in recent years. Numerous excerpts from these responses were included in the testimony, which is over 10 pages long.

"When you live in an urban setting, some amount of noise is unavoidable. For too many Woodhaven residents, though, noise has made life miserable—to the point where they can't open their windows, sleep at night, or host visitors without embarrassment," said Alexander J. Blenkinsopp, WRBA Director of Communications. "This testimony gives the people of Woodhaven an opportunity to voice their opinions to the lawmakers who can and should do something about this growing problem."

The WRBA's testimony supports proposed legislation that would stiffen penalties for nighttime noise emanating from residences. But the testimony also notes that without proper enforcement, the problem will not be solved. For example, the testimony notes that the 102nd Precinct—which covers a very large area—tends to have only four patrol cars out on any given night, making it very difficult for police to respond to noise complaints and enforce the law. "The 102nd Precinct needs more police officers," the testimony states, while also encouraging the City Council to explore other alternatives not included in this legislation.

"This legislation is definitely a good step, and it shows that at least some members of the City Council recognize how important an issue noise is in their constituents' lives," said WRBA President Edward K. Wendell. "But creating noise is already illegal, and as our residents have said loud and clear, calling 311 doesn't get results. Fortunately, our residents have proposed creative alternatives, and we hope our representatives consider those options and others too."

The testimony also describes how residential noise is linked to more serious problems, including out-of-control house parties like the one in Woodhaven that resulted in the fatal beating of 18-year-old Anthony Collao in March; how noise has diminished residents' pride in Woodhaven; and how numerous residents have been driven to frustration or even despair by incessant noise. In addition, the testimony commends the 102nd Precinct on their remarkable work under trying circumstances.

The testimony was submitted to the City Council's Committee on Environmental Protection, which is holding a hearing today on the legislation. Council Member Eric Ulrich, who represents part of Woodhaven, co-sponsored the bill. Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, who also represents part of Woodhaven, sits on the Committee.

This is the first time in recent memory that the WRBA has submitted written testimony to a legislative body. The dozens of residents who took the time to share their experiences and thoughts make this testimony an important window into how noise affects many people's lives.

The full text of the testimony is available at

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WRBA office: (718) 296-3735