Lacrosse field racket revisited

As the lacrosse season gets under way, Notre Dame de Namur University students are once again cheering their team on, while some neighbors are plugging their ears.

The city has found a contractor to conduct a second acoustic study on the noise generated by players and fans on Koret Field, Notre Dame’s recently renovated lacrosse field. The last study, submitted by Shen Milson & Wilke Inc. late last year recorded sound levels during soccer games on Aug. 25 and Sept. 22 and was found to be unsatisfactory by both the city and the neighbors. The new study should be completed in the next two months.

Though some neighbors have said they don’t mind the noise, residents such as Ray Davis say it is intolerable.

“We sit on the side of an amphitheater, in effect. One in which people are screaming,” Davis said.

Davis and his wife have lived in the neighborhood for more than 40 years, but the noise problem only came up in the last few years, when the university created a lacrosse program, replaced its grass field with a $1 million artificial turf athletic field and removed a part of a grove of eucalyptus trees that had served as a sound barrier.

A task force comprising representatives from the school, the city and the neighborhood was created and charged with negotiating a compromise, possibly altering the conditional-use permit that lays out exactly when and how the field can be used.

That plan stalled after both the city and the neighbors said the first acoustic study, completed in December, was not an in-depth study. The study stated that the field’s noise was quieter than that of nearby traffic. The new study will be more extensive and specific about where noise measurements are taken, Belmont’s Community Development Director Carlos de Melo said.

Neighbors complained about the noise at a practice game the week before the start of the lacrosse season in February, de Melo said.

“So the issue is definitely still out there,” he said. “It’s not going to change overnight.”

The university’s new interim president, Judith Maxwell Greig, has taken a proactive stance on the noise problem and already has met with city officials twice about it, university spokesman Richard Rossi said. Greig replaced former president Jack Oblak, who resigned in December after an increasingly tense discussion between the private university and the community this year over the Koret Field sound.

Davis said he’s ready for his home to be quiet again.

“People hear about this and think, ‘What’s their problem? They’re just kids having fun.’ But they’re not kids — they’re men, and they have very loud voices,” he said. “People who don’t live here can’t understand how horrible it is.”

kworth@examiner.com

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