During the bass-heavy Sensation show at Barclays Center it was observed by residents, and confirmed by NYC Department of Environmental Protection, that noise at the arena was audible and disruptive in nearby homes.
Numerous incident reports about noise from the arena were filed on AYW during Sensation and Jay-Z's concerts. The diagram above shows the approximate locations complaints were submitted to AYW for those two events. Jay-Z's music was heard as far away as the surface parking lot on block 1129. Jay-Z's performances ended by 11:30 PM. Complaints received regarding Sensation extend to 1:30 AM; according to some reports the event continued until 5:00 AM.
One resident writes about Sensation:
"Incredibly disturbing dance music that was so loud my noise machine and pillow on my head couldn't block it out. Even more disturbing was the stop/start nature of the noise. I couldn't believe how late this was going on. This was the first event that could be heard in our building, 212 S. Oxford St (at Atlantic.) This building has over 100 kids in it. This cannot be repeated...worse than the 24 hour work permit that we suffered through."
After both Jay-Z and Sensation, residents reported not only hearing sound, but feeling low frequency vibrations. The NYC Noise Code notes at some levels bass not only resonates, it is physically felt. In an acknowledgement of its unique character the Code assigns bass a lower acceptable decibel level limit than higher frequencies.
After a Jay-Z concert one resident whose home is hundreds of feet from the arena writes,
"During last night's concert the bass could be heard and felt inside our apartment building on Dean Street and along street level . . . This is disconcerting, as sound should not be audible -- let alone felt -- from a brand new, state-of-the-art arena."
Another resident reports receiving a call back from the 88th Precinct (the resident may have meant the 78th), in which the officer said the walls of the Precinct house were "really shaking, but there was nothing they could do about it." In fact, both NYPD and DEP are empowered by law to take the actions necessary to prevent the production from producing adverse impacts.
Disposition of community complaints
The illustration to the right is an arial view of Barclays Center with the red area encompassing the 23 complaints triggered by the bass sound filed with Atlantic Yards Watch during the Jay-Z concerts and the Sensation performances. Slightly less than half of the reports were accompanied by 311 complaints. All of the complaints were forwarded to the NYPD. Two were closed with the note that action was taken to fix the condition. The remaining complaints were closed because NYPD found no violation at the time they responded or determined no police action was necessary. In one case a complaint was forwarded to the 77th Precinct. The 77th closed the complaint by noting the area is no longer in its jurisdiction.
During Jay-Z’s concerts DEP did make a site visit and take decibel readings in 700 Pacific, one of the sources of the complaints. A representative from DEP stated at the Quality of Life Committee meeting on October 16th that while DEP inspectors heard music, the levels did not exceed NYC standards. However at the meeting, 700 Pacific Street resident Wayne Bailey responded the measurements were taken by DEP before the concert began.
During a DEP visit to Newswalk for Sensation's show on Saturday, October 27th a problem was identified by DEP and a summons was issued. DEP identified a 74 dbc reading. According to the NYC Noise Code a 74 db(a) reading is equivalent to a mid-town Manhattan traffic noise. Newswalk is one block from the arena.
DEP visited Newswalk again with Forest City Ratner executive Bob Sanna and their own consultants for Justin Beiber's concert in November. Beiber's music is not bass-heavy and no meaningful exceedences from concert noise were identified. As background, though, they did identify other noise conditions "in and around" Barclays Center including heavy traffic flow, horn honking, trucks passing, emergency vehicles sound signals, outside crowd occasion (sic) screaming, and DSNY street sweepers.
Base photo for noise graphic: Tom Kaminski/CBS 880
Photo Jay-Z: Source Associated Press
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