Teen Center makes plans to turn it down a bit

March 13, 2014

By Ari Cetron

New: March 13, 12:14 p.m.

Residents at an apartment complex next to the Sammamish EX3 Teen Center have found out the hard way the difference between living next to a library and a rock concert venue.

Ever since the teen center moved in, apartment residents have had issues with noise, said Amy Knudson, who lives in the Knolls at Inglewood Hill complex.

It’s not just a bit of background murmur that makes its way up the hill into the apartments, she said.

“You can hear the guy singing and breathing in the microphone,” she said. “You can’t sleep. You have to wait until their party is done.”

At first, residents thought that the noise was permitted, since the property is city-owned and coming from the building operated by the Boys & Girls Club.

Recently, they found that city regulations state that people should not be able to hear the noise from more than 75 feet away.

Residents in many of the apartments buildings are well outside that area and can still hear the noise.

One problem, explained Claudia Lytton, property manager for the Knolls at Inglewood Hill, is the design of the site. The center sits lower than the apartment complex, with an earthen berm between the two. Lytton said the ground reflects the sound back at the glass walls of the teen center, which then rebounds back toward the apartments.

“It just echoes,” she said. “It kind of pushed the sound up to us.”

Knudson said when a police officer responded to a noise complaint, he realized the same thing. While it may have been loud in the teen center’s parking lot, he found it even louder in the apartment complex.

“Because of the shape of the building, it’s like an amphitheater,” Knudson said. “It’s louder up here.”

Residents have complained to police, but that has only resulted in a temporary fix.

When officers arrived, they would usually be able to tell quickly if the center was making too much of a ruckus. They would ask the bands to turn down the volume, and the bands would usually comply quickly, said Police Chief Nate Elledge.

Knudson said that while the musicians may comply, they don’t always stay in compliance. Often, she said, once the police left, the volume would go back up.

“We would have to call them two, three, four times,” she said. “What blew my mind was how repetitively they messed with the police.”

Doug Wozeniak, regional director for the Boys & Girls Club, said he’s been working on the issue.

“We can, and will, as an organization, address this,” he said. “If there was a lingering issue with the community, I apologize.”

He said he first heard about the problem a couple weeks ago. At first, he said, Boys & Girls Clubs staff mistakenly thought the noise ordinance applied to a certain time of day, not a volume level.

Wozeniak said he had hired a sound engineer to study the issue and help provide some possible solutions.

Until then, he said, he told the staff there not to schedule any new concerts, and to work with already-scheduled shows to stay within the city guidelines until they are able to arrive at a long-term resolution.

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