Stage fright! Northside fears outdoor concert noise

Stage fright! Northside fears outdoor concert noise
Photo provided by Open Space Alliance

A summer concert series that sparked noise complaints on the Williamsburg waterfront has found a new location — but neighbors fear sound from the outdoor shows will rock their Northside homes.

The parks advocacy group, Open Space Alliance, released a preliminary design last week revealing how it will turn an asphalt lot on Kent Avenue between N. 11th and N. 12th streets into a concert venue — the shows’ third location change in the past four years.

But some live music critics say moving the concerts three blocks from their previous home in East River State Park won’t address complaints about unruly fans, noisy sound checks, and blaring speakers.

And they’re already covering their ears because renderings show the stage at the new venue will point inland rather than toward the East River, like it did in the state park last year.

“After offending the neighborhood with noise and crowds in the past few years, they move it just a few blocks north and face the stage at new neighbors — brilliant!” said Williamsburg resident Robin Haggert. “I love the idea of concerts on the waterfront, but I’m just blown away at how mindless they are about the problems they encountered before.”

The new location is on a city lot slated to become a part of the long-planned Bushwick Inlet Park, and Open Space Alliance director Stephanie Thayer says the more industrial setting should be easier on Northside residents than East River State Park, which is flanked by new condos.

“We have moved our venue to a location surrounded by industrial and commercial zoning,” said Thayer, who says the new venue will give music lovers rare access to open space promised to North Brooklyn after the controversial 2005 rezoning. “Our mission is to improve and create parks and public recreation, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.”

The orientation of the 60-foot stage should prevent noise from reflecting off several metal warehouses on Kent and back into the venue, according to an architect — but some residents fear noise will blast into a neighborhood that’s home to 1,655 residents in a 15-block area near the site, according to the Census.

“They’re trying to compress a large stadium venue into an open-air space,” said neighbor Susan Fensten.

But many Northside business owners, including Brooklyn Bowl, the Two Trees-owned Wythe Hotel, and the Brooklyn Brewery, whose owner, Steve Hindy, is on the Open Space Alliance board, support the new venue.

“It’s on our doorstep, it’s great!” said Wythe Hotel manager Peter Lawrence, who hopes his hotel will open this summer. “Quite a few rooms have a great view of the activities of the concerts, and I’m sure people will be up on our roof deck when the concerts are on.”

Thayer said 40 volunteers will sweep up any litter in the streets surrounding the concert after each show and promised to be sensitive to all her new neighbors’s concerns.

“The point is that it’s not going to be an asphalt, chain-linked lot,” said Thayer. “It’s not just concert venue. Our main purpose is to create parkland.”

Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.