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Mill Avenue Goes Acoustic

Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012

Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 12:09

Mill Noise

Tiera Allen, College Times

Mill Avenue is a far cry from quaint and quiet. It’s a rowdy place where alcohol is consumed and music is played. The raucous nature is understood and accepted by business owners and residents alike, but there is only so much they can take. After receiving complaints from downtown Tempe residents about loud music and amplified noise continuing late into the night, the Downtown Tempe Community got to work.

In order to establish the effect amplified noise has on the downtown Tempe community, a pilot program to control noise has been passed. From College Avenue to Farmer Avenue, and University Drive to the center of Town Lake (North), amplified noise without a special events permit has been banned.

Nancy Hormann,president and executive director of the Downtown Tempe Community, is confident the program is working.

“It’s been going terrific, absolutely wonderful,” Hormann said. “Everybody is cooperative, and it has made a big difference for the residents down here.”

Hormann said it started with the residents and some of the businesses complaining because performers were showing up with generators and large speakers to play late into the night.

“They had no respect for the fact there were people who would be trying to sleep,” she said. “The place would be empty at 2 in the morning and these guys would still be blasting their music.”

According to data supplied by the City of Tempe, there are about 1,500 residents living in this area and 1,000 more are expected to move there in the near future as more housing is developed.

Hormann said residents living near Mill Avenue knew when they moved that it coexisted with an entertainment area, but that this is different.

“The residents describe it as the activity on the street and the noise that comes from the bars and clubs as a steady kind of dim; it doesn’t go up and it doesn’t go down and it’s really easy just to exist with it,” Hormann said.

But it was the amplified noise late into the night that they did not sign up for.

“All we did was: you’re welcome to play and you’re welcome to stay. You just have to play for five people, not 500, and it’s working great,” she said.

Hormann said the Downtown Tempe Community looked to cities like Boulder, Colorado, a city that has enacted similar noise restrictions.

“It’s all about excessive noise not about necessarily amplification,” Hormann said. “It’s excessive noise not only amplified because what happens is you could have someone with a set of drums that is blaring into hotels and residencies”

The Downtown Tempe Community is in solidarity with the pilot program as well. They host live music every Thursday and have ditched the amps as well.

Mary Mazzoni, a resident of West Sixthapartments right off of Mill Avenue, said she has definitely noticed the amplified noise but it never bothered her.

“I’m from Philadelphia originally, so I’m used to there being noise living in a coarsely populated area,” she said.

Mazzoni moved into the Phoenix area earlier this year and chose to live in West Sixth because of the building and its location. While she can easily overlook Mill Avenue from her building, she is just far enough away that the sounds don’t keep her up at night as long as her windows are closed.

She said she hasn’t seen too much of a noise difference since the program went into effect several weeks ago.

“It’s not like it’s just people standing on the corner with amplified music, there’s also sounds coming from bars and people coming and going on the street,” she said. “I think it’s probably a bit hard to control in that respect.”

While she doesn’t feel personally affected, Mazzoni said she can understand why those working and living along Mill Avenue would be bothered.

”A lot of those bands do tend to be out later at night, especially on the weekends,” she said.

Even though living near Mill Avenue can be a bit of a hassle, Mazzoni said she enjoys her home at West Sixth.

“Despite the noise I think it’s a great place to live, especially if you really like that vibrant kind of environment, which I think also plays into that,” she said. “The noise is excessive but not to the detriment of the area.”

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