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Music at Staples' night games hits sour note with neighbors

Updated 5:45 pm, Friday, October 5, 2012
  • Members of the Staples Lighting Review Committee on Thursday, assessing the initial impact of new stadium lighting, heard the neighbors' primary concern is the level noise generated by warmup music at nighttime football games. Photo: Jarret Liotta / Westport News contributed
    Members of the Staples Lighting Review Committee on Thursday, assessing the initial impact of new stadium lighting, heard the neighbors' primary concern is the level noise generated by warmup music at nighttime football games. Photo: Jarret Liotta

 

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The impact of newly installed Friday night lights for football games at Staples High School's stadium still leaves questions unanswered, but for neighbors the volume of pre-game warmup music is starting to shake the trees.

The Staples Lighting Review Committee met Thursday night for a short update on issues and concerns relating to the first season of nighttime games, which was inaugurated last month.

Despite pre-season tests, wherein High Point Road residents said that Level One sound settings would be acceptable to them for night games, they're now finding that warmup music played at football games is much louder than originally expected.

"We're shutting the windows," said Hedi Mandel, a committee member who lives on High Point. "We're hanging out in the back. We're doing what we can to not be pains about this."

But Dan DeVito, operations supervisor for the town's Parks & Recreation Department, said the noise level has been consistent. "We haven't changed it," he said. "It's at the level we agreed to."

Committee members hypothesized that the higher noise levels may be caused by the presence of crowds in the stands, which could be affecting how sounds travel. Mandel also blamed some of it on the choice of music being played.

"Football is the loudest," Mandel said, while girls' field hockey games at night have not bothered neighbors.

While the stadium's sound-system speakers currently face down toward the field, DeVito suggested shutting off the two speakers atop the press box.

"All the team wants is some music when they're warming up," he said.

But Mandel suggested that, "just to be reasonable," the team could focus on being glad to even have the tower lighting for the nighttime games and forgo the additional perk of warmup music.

"All the neighbors were there," she said, "and they said, `This just isn't what we listened to' " in earlier sound tests.

Regarding the lights themselves, since trees around the stadium still have their foliage, neighbors as yet say they can't gauge their impact.

"The lights haven't been obtrusive at this point," said Maury Wind, committee member and High Point Road resident, who acknowledged there wouldn't be much that can be done about them anyway.

"They're pretty much set," he said.

Wind and Mandel, meanwhile, agreed to try letting the safety lights stay on for an additional 10 minutes after the main lights are shut in order to allow everyone to exit safely from the stadium after the games.

"We'll work on the speaker system on the 19th," said Marty Lisevick, Staples' athletic director, referencing the next home football game Oct. 19.

The committee decided it will not meet again until January.

"Everybody's trying to find a happy medium," Mandel said of the committee's work.

"I'm very pleased," said Elaine Whitney, committee chairwoman and a Board of Education member. "I feel like we have a good collaborative process in place. I think we've been working well to tweak things."