The residents of Woodhaven are making noise regarding the incessant racket in their neighborhood.
The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) submitted written testimony to the New York City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection recently promoting proposed legislation that would institute harsher fines for residential noise. City Councilmember Eric Ulrich, who represents part of Woodhaven, co-sponsored the bill, and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who also represents part of Woodhaven, sits on the Committee.
“This is a very important issue, not only in my community, but throughout the city,” said Ulrich. “Unlike other quality of life issues, excessive noise infiltrates homes and impacts people on a very personal level. This bill will give the NYPD the tools and resources it needs to ensure a reasonable level of peace and quiet in residential neighborhoods.
The WRBA, which functions as an advocate for Woodhaven residents and promotes neighborhood spirit by bringing residents and local leaders together, also hopes the council will formulate new ideas to deal with the consistent problem of noise pollution in their area.
Residential noise is undoubtedly the most frequent complaint of Woodhaven residents. According to 3-1-1, between June 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011, there were 3,152 noise complaints filed in Woodhaven, 2,050 of which were for residential noise. Furthermore, Woodhaven ranks fourth among the Community Boards in Queens in terms of both noise and residential noise complaints.
“When you live in an urban setting, some amount of noise is unavoidable,” said Alexander J. Blenkinsopp, WRBA director of communications. “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.”
The testimony, delivered on Monday, June 28, contains the responses from dozens of Woodhaven residents to a WRBA questionnaire. Based on the results, the large majority of residents say that the noise conditions in their neighborhood have negatively affected their quality of life, and that the situation has gotten progressively worse in recent years. Among the more frequent forms of noise pollution referenced are loud music and fighting.
Residents are also complaining that not enough is being done to handle the noise level in their neighborhood. While the testimony praises the 102nd Precinct, which patrols a large area in Woodhaven, for their efforts in a challenging situation, the WRBA believes more police officers are necessary to serve the community properly.
However, Officer Joseph Martins of Community Affairs at the 102nd Precinct believes that while more officers can always be used, the precinct does very well with they have.
“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 3-1-1 doesn’t get results. Fortunately, our residents have proposed creative alternatives, and we hope our representatives consider those options and others too.”
Nick Sbordone, 3-1-1 spokesperson, assures that all grievances called into 3-1-1 are assigned a ticket and given to the appropriate agency to service the issue. According to Sbordone, noise as a whole, and residential noise in particular, has decreased over the past three years.
One Woodhaven resident echoed Wendell’s sentiments when they said, “Time after time, no matter how much I called and complained to 311, I would never see a police car drive by and ask people to turn down their music. I’ve even called in a few times to 9-1-1 when fights would break out at 2-4 o’clock in the morning from the same clubs. I’m afraid one day it will become so out of control that someone might begin to shoot a weapon and that my family might become innocent victims.”
Residents are concerned, particularly after the fatal beating of 18-year-old Anthony Collao at a raucous house party in Woodhaven in March.
Noise complaints by community board
Below are the total noise complaints for each Queens Community Board between June 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011, with the residential noise complaints in parentheses. Woodhaven is Queens CB 9.
Queens CB 1 = 4,475 (2,113) Queens CB 2 = 2,442 (1,131) Queens CB 3 = 3,418 (2,279) Queens CB 4 = 2,203 (1,593) Queens CB 5 = 2,507 (1,372) Queens CB 6 = 1,804 (1,140) Queens CB 7 = 2,835 (1,758) Queens CB 8 = 1,906 (1,383) Queens CB 9 = 3,152 (2,050) Queens CB 10 = 2,138 (1,510) Queens CB 11 = 631 (233) Queens CB 12 = 3,475 (2,475) Queens CB 13 = 1,885 (1,303) Queens CB 14 = 1,476 (1,161)