The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 17, 2013

Our View: Sound complaints overblown

The Free Press

— One person’s music of choice can be another person’s noise. Tolerance for different volume levels can be just as varied.

This muddy description of acceptable sound is exactly why there have been some complaints about concert “noise” coming from the Riverfront Park amphitheater in Mankato’s Old Town.

The surprise for some people might be that it is the residents of North Mankato, across the river from the park, who seem to be complaining most loudly about concert noise. Mankato Mayor Eric Anderson has conceded there’s a problem and that the river valley causes the sound to hit some spots harder, even if they’re farther away. Wind and humidity also cause some concerts to generate more complaints than others.

The city of Mankato has said in the past that it is aware of the problem and would work on adjusting sound at the concert venue.

During August’s RibFest, they measured the sound in area neighborhoods at 50 decibels. Normal conversation is about 60 decibels.

So even if the sound carries better over to North Mankato, it’s not to the level where it’s blocking conversation — or causing an entire night of sleeplessness. Most of the music at the park is done by 11 p.m. So even if the acoustic group Trampled by Turtles wasn’t your musical taste when they played last fall, they were done playing before Cinderella had to be home from the ball.

Event organizers should always keep in mind the importance of being good neighbors, but neighbors must also keep in mind that sometimes you can tolerate a lot more than you think you’re capable of. The concerts generally are scheduled every couple of weeks during the summer and early fall. In the big scheme of a year, that’s not excessive.

And in the Midwest where frugality is often a factor in life, residents can always look at the glass as half full and enjoy the “free” concerts in their own backyards.