The company behind a major real estate development in Westbrook says it is considering changes to plans for a permanent music venue in response to hundreds of noise complaints it has received since late May.

Josh Levy, principal at Waterstone Properties, said data collected about noise and complaints will guide how it designs a performance space at Rock Row, the shopping, residential and entertainment complex planned in a former quarry on Westbrook’s border with Portland.

“We are still collecting a lot of data, but it absolutely informs our process,” Levy said in an interview Friday at the construction site.

That could mean an indoor venue that could open up for outdoor shows, similar to a venue in Irving, Texas, that company representatives recently visited, Levy said. Waterstone is thinking about a conference center to fill a regional demand for that amenity.

Building that space will take years, Levy cautioned. In the meantime, his company wants to hold concerts with as little disruption as possible.

“We’ve been working tirelessly to make improvements to the sound,” he said.


The concert crowd arrives at Maine Savings Pavilion at Rock Row last Saturday for a show by Slightly Stoopid. The owners of the Rock Row complex are analyzing noise data as they consider a permanent performance space at the site. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Since Waterfront Concerts started holding concerts at the temporary Maine Savings Pavilion last month, hundreds of residents in Portland and Westbrook have called in noise complaints.

The company “got a lot of things wrong” at the first concert three weeks ago, but has been working hard to address noise problems, Levy said.

Rock Row has hired a consultant to make sure the venue stays within permitted noise levels and has moved equipment to muffle sound.

During concerts, roving staff respond when there are complaints to test sound levels. If noises exceed the threshold of 55 decibels or 5 decibels above background noise, the venue is ordered to turn down the volume.

The hotline received about 115 calls when rock acts Young the Giant and Fitz and the Tantrums played Rock Row on Thursday, project coordinator Brian Kaplan said. That’s about half the complaints a concert last Saturday received and includes people complaining more than once.

“There are a number of people who call back multiple times throughout the night,” Kaplan said.


He tested noise readings at 30 sites during the concert and none exceeded the noise limit, Kaplan said.

Westbrook public safety officials received just 10 complaints Thursday, a “marked decrease” from previous concerts, said public safety communications director Greg Hamilton. Last week, the city asked people not to call 911 to report noise and instead call the venue hotline.

Police Chief Janine Roberts said in a Thursday statement that none of the sound measurements taken during a Slightly Stoopid concert on Saturday exceeded the noise standards. The city has approved 16 music acts for the Maine Savings Pavilion this year.

“We are committed to working to determine that the events are operating under the standards set by the city of Westbrook and the Department of Environmental Protection,” Roberts said. “Should an artist or venue operator ever fall out of compliance, we will ensure the necessary action is taken to decrease the noise to be within the standards.”

Even with efforts to reduce unwanted noise, some Portland and Westbrook residents are still incensed about the noise coming from concerts at the venue.

Dan Collins, who lives on Jackson Street in Portland’s North Deering neighborhood, almost five miles from Rock Row, said it sounded like Thursday’s concert was next door.


The music was so loud that he and his neighbors “couldn’t hear our televisions in our own homes with the windows closed,” Collins said in an email to City Councilor Kimberly Cook. “I bet if I played music as loud as that my neighbors would summon the police and they would show up.”

Work on the first phase of Rock Row continues through the noise controversy. A shopping plaza anchored by a Market Basket supermarket is expected to be done next spring, Levy said.  Building a trail network around the quarry and nearby woods is the next step. His company wanted to make trail work a priority instead of an afterthought, he said.

The next phase in the project is a 12-screen movie theater, a food and beer hall for local vendors, offices and shopping, planned for 2021 and 2022. Market-rate apartment housing will follow.

Waterstone also wants to set space aside to “incubate” local businesses and develop workforce training programs, Levy said.

Although skyrocketing construction costs are making the project more expensive, it will not derail the work, Levy said.

“We have no concerns about it slowing down,” he said.

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