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Survey may mute controversy about noise

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The ruckus raised over the noise made by Notre Dame de Namur University’s Koret Field may finally be hushed.

The school’s recently renovated $1 million lacrosse field has been the subject of debate and some neighbors had complained that play on the field produced too much noise. But a new sound survey indicates that the field doesn’t produce significantly more noise than nearby traffic — essentially replicating a survey that was soundly rejected by neighbors and the city late last year.

The controversy erupted at the small private school and factored into the replacement of its president in December. While many residents said the noise didn’t bother them, a handful of residents, whose houses may have been acoustically perfect to receive the most noise, said they felt they were living “on the side of an amphitheater.”

The concerned residents argued the field was regularly in violation of the city’s noise ordinance, which prohibits noise above 65 decibels except by permit. By comparison, a vacuum cleaner measures in the decibel level of 70.

The university commissioned a sound survey late last year, but when the study came back indicating there was no problem with noise, both the city and the neighbors both insisted on a second survey.

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In this second survey, noise levels were measured at two games from the houses that had complained about the noise. In one game, attended by 50 people, there was no difference between the sound before the game and during the game. During the second game, there was slightly increased noise during the games at two of the houses.

Belmont Director of Community Development Carlos de Melo noted a few recommendations the new study laid out to improve the noise situation: to ask students not to stand on the dirt hill constructed to limit the sound flowing up to the neighborhood, to limit the hours of play, and to adjust the height and the angle of the speaker system.

The universitywill be happy to work with the community on such changes, said NDNU spokesman Richard Rossi.

“We still want to be good neighbors here. Even if it was just one neighbor who was complaining, we would still do whatever we reasonably could to accommodate them,” he said.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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