Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hamilton Heights is city's most earsplitting neighborhood

Hamilton Heights is city's most earsplitting neighborhood
Saturday, June 28th 2008, 11:32 PM

Hamilton Heights wins again.

The Manhattan neighborhood remains the noisiest neighborhood in the city with 5,686 complaints to 311 since last July 1, when the city introduced a hard-knuckled new noise code.

But a year after the code promised to hush noisemakers, residents in notoriously loud communities say the volume is as high as ever.

"I can't sleep. I can't talk on the telephone. I can't hear my TV. It's so noisy, I can't hear my own voice," griped Marsha James, 79.

Mesiyah McGinnis, 38, agreed. "It's always noisy here," he said. "I can hear sirens at all hours nonstop, but the noise is the pulse of the city."

The overhauled code cracked down on a host of noise culprits including jackhammers, bars and clubs, lawnmowers, barking dogs and even ice cream trucks. Fines can hit $175.

Noise complaints to 311 jumped 8% this year to 294,953 and the chief woe was loud neighbors.

Emily Lloyd, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, said the spike in complaints is proof New Yorkers are getting the message that noise won't be tolerated.

"Not that you have to do much to get New Yorkers to complain, which is a good thing, but now they know what to do when they see noise is a problem," said Lloyd.

Neighborhoods that produced the most noise complaints were Williamsburg and Flatbush in Brooklyn, Norwood in the Bronx and the East Village.

"Every year, it gets noisier because more and more people are moving here," said Sunny Kang, 53, who owns Sunny's Florist in the East Village. "The more people, the more business."

Danny Thomas, 56, said his East Village block could use some relief. "The horns, the music, the drunk people screaming all night. It hasn't changed a bit down here," he said.

Lloyd estimated it would take three to four years before the number of noise complaints starts to decline and New Yorkers notice a quieter city.

Still, the statistics should be read with caution, advised one expert.

"For the average New Yorker," said Eric Zwerling, director of the Rutgers University Noise Technical Assistance Center, "it's whether or not a specific complaint has been resolved in a reasonable matter."

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