Recreation and Parks Working on Solution for Blandair Noise

County's recreation and parks director says, "We know we have to figure out a way to reduce noise impact."

After nearby residents complained about excessive noise from sports events at Blandair Park  during a community meeting last week, Howard County Recreation and Parks said it would develop a plan to deal with the noise.

"We know we have to figure out a way to reduce the noise impact," said John Byrd, recreation and parks director.

Byrd said his department will be looking at when and how leagues use amplified sound, how late the lights belong on and whether the 11 p.m. curfew for the park is too late.

About 70 residents who live near the newly opened park expressed their frustations to Byrd and recreation and parks staff during a community meeting at the Other Barn in Oakland Mills last week, according to Sandy Cedarbaum, Village Manager for Oakland Mills.

Emerson Hill resident Mike Nickel, who attended the meeting, said in addition to noise and light concerns, residents expressed their displeasure with games going past 11 p.m., park goers walking through back yards and increased traffic in the surrounding neighborhood.

"There is nothing parkesque about it," said Nickel. "This is nothing but sports fields."

Nickel said football games were the loudest, that music is played between breaks in games and that he can hear the speakers built into the scoreboards from his home.

"I can hear [noise] when I leave for work in the morning at 8 a.m.," said Nickel.

Byrd said some of the noise is the result of teams bringing their own sound systems.

"Some of the sound systems may have been unauthorized to begin with," said Byrd.

Cedarbaum said the meeting last week went well, with recreation and parks being very respectful of the community's concerns.

"It was a great first step," said Cedarbaum.

After the meeting, Byrd said his staff would work on a plan to address the problems.

A second meeting for residents with parks staff is scheduled for Jan. 22 at the Other Barn.

"It seems like we have a dialogue with the community," said Byrd. "We just want to keep that open until we come to a resolution."

"We will continue meeting and we will continue working together," said Cedarbaum.

Blandair Park, which is open from sunrise to 11 p.m., officially opened in March, and is home to lacrosse, soccer and football practices and games on its three synthetic fields—which are lit at night. The park also hosts sports tournaments.

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