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Noise Meeting Turns Noisy

Wasi Philbert spoke up at the public forum.Loud music is our culture and if you don’t like it, leave. That summed up the sentiment of many of those who spoke at a public meeting called by Sen. Craig Barshinger on St. John’s noise issue.

“We’re Caribbean people. We can hear the music and still sleep,” Grasshopper Pickering said.

More than 150 people attended the meeting held in the covered parking lot of the new Legislature building in Cruz Bay.

Although several people at the meeting had complained to the Source about the recent spate of loud music in Coral Bay, none stood up to have their say.

“I was aware due to the passion level of some of the proponents of unlimited noise that some who came to the meeting desiring to have more quiet times were uncomfortable standing up and speaking,” Barshinger said after the meeting.

The meeting turned raucous several times with those at the meeting trying to shout down Deputy Police Chief Darren Foy and Barshinger or yelling their approval of the speaker’s remarks.

Foy was the only government official other than Barshinger to attend. Barshinger said Licensing Commissioner Wayne Biggs was invited but he called two hours before the meeting started to say that he was busy on St. Croix.

While the police have the job of enforcing the law, Licensing makes decisions on the licenses given to the businesses who want to play music.

Barshinger stressed that the law as written with its limit of 75 decibels must be amended because it’s too low. And the only way to measure the level is with decibel meters, Barshinger and Foy said. Foy said that while the Police Department has the meters on hand, the trainer told him that he can’t train officers to use them because the law is too vague.

“It doesn’t say where the officer is supposed to be when he measures the sound,” Foy said.

Foy also said that he would not sign any permits giving businesses the okay to play music until 4 a.m.

According to Foy, his officers visit a business when the Police Department gets a complaint. He said they ask the business to turn down the music but do not shut them down. He also noted that as the law is now written, nightclubs must be enclosed.

Most of the speakers – many were on the young side – seemed to feel that turning down the music was not an option for them.

Others said that they were not retirees or on vacation so they weren’t willing to put their lives on hold so people could rest.

“They have to adjust to us,” one woman said.

Wasi Philbert called the meeting a dog and pony show.

“We need a common sense law,” he said.

While music was the main topic, two people stood up to complain about vacationers at nearby villas making loud noise while in the pool late at night. One of those people said he called the police when those vacationers complained about his saxophone playing at 6:30 a.m.

Barshinger said people can comment on noise issues at www.noise@visenate.org.

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