WESTBROOK — Officials said they will work with the concert promoter to prevent the recurrence of hundreds of noise complaints in the city and neighboring Portland during an outdoor performance Sunday night.

The city received 237 complaints about the noise from the concert by hip-hop and funk artist Anderson .Paak during the first event at the new Maine Savings Pavilion at Rock Row, a mixed-use project under development at Larrabee Road and Main Street. A separate noise complaint phone line set up by the promoter logged about 70 complaints.

In advance of the inaugural concert, City Administrator Jerre Bryant said Westbrook required that the promoter, Waterfront Concerts, place monitors in nearby neighborhoods to keep track of the noise level. If the monitors recorded noise 5 decibels or more above the background noise, Bryant said, a compliance officer at the concert would order the sound turned down.

The compliance officer – paid by the promoter but approved by the city – didn’t find any excessive noise Sunday night, Bryant said. He said the monitors were in Westbrook residential neighborhoods about a half mile from the concert site and about a mile away in the Nason’s Corner neighborhood along Brighton Avenue in Portland.

“As the host city, we have to be responsible here,” he said. “We hold the event promoter to a standard.”

The city will work with Waterfront Concerts to move some of the meters to different locations before the next concert on June 15, Bryant said. Westbrook Mayor Michael J. Sanphy, who said he personally fielded dozens of noise complaints Sunday – including one from Shore Road in Cape Elizabeth – issued a statement Tuesday afternoon pledging that the city will study the issue and identify steps that will it will take before the next concert.

Most of the Sunday night complaints came from four neighborhoods – Deering Center and Woodford’s Corner in Portland, the East Bridge Street area in Westbrook and the Stroudwater Street-Westbrook Street area on the Portland-Westbrook line – and focused on the heavy bass sound that apparently traveled farther along several noise “corridors,” Bryant said.

Many factors, including atmospheric conditions, humidity and wind, affect how far and where sound travels so it may be difficult to predict which locations, if any, will get excessive noise at the next performance.

FUTURE ADJUSTMENTS EXPECTED

Alex Gray, the promoter and owner of Waterfront Concerts, said he’s committed to addressing noise complaints, and noted that there are likely to be adjustments with every concert. Different performers have different amplification preferences, he said, and the type of music – such as whether it has a strong bass output – also can affect how far the sound travels.

Gray said he was overseeing parking at the site near the intersection of Larrabee Road and Terminal Street, just a short distance from the pavilion, and “was pleasantly surprised at the (noise) level on that side of town.”

Waterfront previously arranged performances for Portland’s Maine State Pier, which also drew noise complaints. Last year, the city’s Sound Oversight Committee logged 89 noise complaints from May through September. In 2017, 130 complaints were recorded.

Gray pointed to his experience handling noise issues at Darling’s Pavilion, a site in Bangor that has been home to outdoor concerts since 2010, through constant monitoring and adjustments.

“We had hundreds of complaints the first few seasons in Bangor” but are now largely resolved, Gray said. “We’ll get ahead of this.”

Cathy Conlow, Bangor’s city manager, said she believes complaints there topped out at about 80. The city generally gets fewer than a dozen for concerts now and sometimes only one or two. She said Bangor developed noise standards and monitors the noise levels at concerts and can order volumes changed if the sound is excessive.

But it’s probably impossible to eliminate all complaints and still hold outdoor concerts, she said.

“We have had some people who are consistently uncomfortable with the noise,” Conlow said. “We have some regulars, like one fellow who calls before the concerts start because he knows it’s going to be a problem and wants to get his complaint in ahead of time.”

BALANCING INTERESTS

Gray said that, as in Bangor, Waterfront Concerts will continue to monitor and refine operations to address complaints in Westbrook.

“But will we ever get to zero complaints? No,” he said. “It’s an ongoing process. We have to constantly adapt.”

Bryant said Westbook can fine the promoter if there are repeated violations of the conditions for performances and could cut back on the number of concerts permitted in the future if problems are not addressed. The city approved 16 concerts this year, he said.

Gray said city officials and residents will have to weigh the benefits of the concerts against any drawbacks and find that the net result is positive.

“This was an industrial wasteland 12 weeks ago and now it’s a world-class concert venue,” he said, referencing the former quarry on which Rock Row is sited. “The big story is that 4,000 people showed up in Westbrook who otherwise would not have been there.”

Bryant said there were no other issues with the concert and no reports of any arrests. He said the performance ended before the city-mandated deadline of 11 p.m. and traffic and parking appeared to have been handled well.

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