By John Schaffner

Homeowners around Chastain Park sounded off about excessive noise from the amphitheater to three members of the Atlanta City Council at the annual meeting of the Chastain Park Civic Association, April 26.

“We still have a serious problem with the amphitheater sound level,” said a resident who lives nearby the concert venue. “I know there are a number of people here working on the issue, but it is still a problem.”

Although sound levels outside the amphitheater are not supposed to exceed 95 decibels during performances, “within 10 feet of the back fence of the amphitheater, the sound level can get into the low 90s,” the homeowner said. On occasion, she’s registered a 95 decibels or higher reading on her sound meter, she said.

“When it gets to 95, that means within 10 feet of the back fence, it is twice the sound of a smoke alarm.”

During the two-hour meeting at the American Legion Hall on the south end of Chastain Park, the amphitheater twice was brought up to members of council.

First, it was brought up early in the meeting to Dist. 8 Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean and Council President Ceasar Mitchell. Then it was renewed at the close of the meeting with At-Large Councilman Michael Julian Bond, who arrived at the meeting after Adrean and Mitchell had left for another meeting.

Mitchell told the woman to make sure the Parks Department is made aware of the situation.

“They have been aware of it,” she responded.

She said former Parks Commissioner Diane Harnell Cohen contacted the Chastain Park Conservancy. “The conservancy is a great group of people but they are not the elected board. And, all the people she met with had not been involved with the amphitheater sound levels before.”

The woman said the group went before City Council without the Chastain Park Civic Association “and they passed something (allowable sound level) through council that is absurdly high.”

Of those complaining about the excessive noise from concerts, about half seemed to live in Buckhead and half in Sandy Springs, just a stone’s throw from the Amphitheater.

Adrean told the group that City Council is in the process of renegotiating the contract on the Amphitheater and that this is a good time to bring those issues up. That contract will come before Adrean’s Finance Committee for review and renewal.

When the issue came up again at the end of the meeting with Bond, several residents unloaded on the councilman about the excessive noise from concerts. Some claimed to live up to 2½ miles from the amphitheater and said they can hear the performers as if they were sitting in seats at the venue.

But the person who identified herself as living 2½ miles from the venue said she lives on Mount Paran Road, a much shorter distance as the crow flies — or sound travels. Others who complained — some said they could hear amphitheater concerts as if there was a radio in their back yards — may live within a half mile of the amphitheater.

One woman said there is no real problem during the symphony’s concert series, because they use the city installed sound system only. She said other performers, however, augment the city system with their own sound equipment.