Portland resident Bobby Shaddox plays music while trying to talk at the Rock Rock community meeting Monday night to make the point that constant noise can be disturbing to everyday life. Chance Viles/American Journal

WESTBROOK — Over 40 residents from Westbrook and the Nason’s Corner neighborhood of Portland filled a Community Center meeting room Monday night to say they are fed up that nothing is being done about the excessive noise from the Rock Row concerts.

Attendees at the monthly Rock Row community meeting, which turned into a shouting match at times, said they are still dealing with noise so loud that their windows are rattling and many of them are losing sleep, disrupting their work schedules. Residents also felt frustrated, they said, that are not being listened to.

Waterfront General Manager Jon Dow, community liaison Lynda Adams and Project Manager Brian Kaplan were at the meeting equipped with a sound monitor to show residents, promising that while some concerts are louder than others, the general noise is being improved and is a work in progress.

“It seems the approach is to do things wrong, then learn from mistakes, and that’s not professional,” said Nason’s Corner resident Bobby Shaddox, who said many of the speakers at the Maine Savings Pavilion at Rock Row “are pointed at Portland.”

He asked, “How many noise calls will it take for you to do something serious to mitigate the noise, or is this all a facade?”

Over half of the attendees were residents of Nason’s Corner or nearby streets over the Westbrook-Portland line.

Shaddox pulled a speaker playing music from his pocket as he began to make his point. Attempting to talk over Wierd Al Yankovic’s “Dare to be Stupid,” Shaddox aimed to show how difficult it can be to deal with constant music while continuing with his daily life.

A mobile sound monitor Rock Row uses when traveling to specific streets to measure noise during concerts. Sitting idle during the meeting, the numbers often reached mid-80s in decibels during louder parts of the meeting. Chance Viles/American Journal

“That music from your speaker is reading at about 80 decibels,” Dow said, holding the active sound monitor he brought. Rock Rock has consistently complied with its limit of 55 decibels outside of the venue, Dow and Adams said. They also noted that Portland allows 65 decibels for concerts in that city.

Residents said they were frustrated with only hearing about numbers and metrics. They said they feel their concerns are  ignored whenever they were reminded that Rock Row has never gone over the decibel restrictions set by the Planning Board after extensive meetings over the past year.

“It shakes my house, it’s ridiculous, and this is coming from someone that likes bass and music like hip-hop,” Stephen Totman said. “I am up early and I have workers who can’t sleep, and it’s making it hard for them because the concerts keep them up.”

Totman, the owner of Baker’s Bench in Westbrook, said the music isn’t just annoying, it is also affecting his business and employees. He said Rock Row officials are not changing anything, and he believes that complaints at the meetings don’t make it to where they need to be. He asked other residents to attend Planning Board and City Council meetings to discuss the issues.

At times, the meeting got heated, with Adams asking Totman to avoid getting personal in his comments, saying that she may have to ask him to leave. Other residents yelled and spoke over one another, sometimes breaking out into small arguments from within the crowd.

Stephen Totman, in the white shirt in the front left, responds to Rock Row officials at their community meeting Monday night. Chance Viles/ American Journal

“They think they have this all made and it’s a done deal but it is not, and I need to take my complaints to the city,” Totman said, before leaving the meeting in frustration. “I think we should rally together because we are not being listened to.”

Totman, as well as many other attendees, did say that not every concert was too loud. Multiple people at the meeting noted that some concerts are too loud at their homes but not at their immediate neighbors. Then, with another concert, it works out the opposite way.

Adams stressed that each complaint is recorded and saved and that each point made at the meeting is taken into consideration.

Dow said that while Rock Row is now taking data and metrics, after the shows wrap up this summer a third-party sound engineer will vet the results looking for more concrete ways for Rock Row to mitigate the noise and help pinpoint why some concerts are louder than others.

“We see all of the calls that come in, and we are on-site monitoring the sound, and also driving to neighborhoods where the most calls are coming in,” Adams said.

Dow also said that between each show, the subwoofers and PA systems are repositioned in an attempt to figure out the perfect configuration for noise reduction. He said that complaints have decreased by 25% in recent concerts, though he declined to give the exact number of calls made to the complaint line.

“I live right nearby, I hear nothing. I hopped in my car and drove around with my windows down to so many different streets, and heard nothing. I don’t understand where the issue is, but this is good for us,” said Westbrook resident Doreen Delcourt.

Doreen Delcourt addresses the crowd in support of the venue, before being asked to sit down by Rock Row officials. Chance Viles/American Journal

Delcourt, frustrated with the amount of negativity about the concert, made her way to the front of the room to address the crowd but was asked to sit-down by Rock Row officials.

Residents also asked that Planning Board and City Council members attend the community meetings. At-Large Councilor Michael Foley, sitting in the audience,  stood to address the group.

“While I am here, the City Council is not up here because it is not our meeting to run,” Foley said.

Foley went on to say that building issues, sound limits and other concerns brought up at the meeting are in the Planning Board’s jurisdiction and did not go through the City Council.

“I do respond to every email I get, I have driven to houses when people asked to see how loud it was. … I know (Rock Row) is trying, Waterstone is a developer who does not want their name dragged through the mud,” Foley added.

The meeting went on for the fully allotted two hours, with multiple residents and Rock Row officials sticking around to talk longer about the issues. No real compromise was made to lower noise, but Rock Row officials maintained that the meetings are crucial in helping them understand exactly how noise impacts certain neighborhoods, as windows rattling and being able to hear a singer may have two different solutions.

“We really are trying, it is in our best interest to get the complaints down to zero, and that is my goal,” Dow said. “We want to be good neighbors, and we are listening and trying hard to make that happen.”

The next concert is slated to be country singer Billy Currington on Aug. 16. The next community meeting is set for Sept. 9, 6 p.m. at the Westbrook Community Center, 426 Bridge St.

Audience members raise their hands Monday to indicate that they live in Nason’s Corner. At the far right is Rock Row project coordinator Brian Kaplan. Chance Viles/American Journal


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