The Decibel Meter Experiment at Washington Square Park: How’s it Been Going? Community Board 2 to Revisit Wed. Sept. 7

Music At Washington Square Park Greenwich Village NYC

It was never an issue in the “old” park, but, since the redesign of Washington Square Park, complaints about the volume of music ‐ music being something the space is known for ‐ have risen to a crescendo via certain quarters. In response to this, a few months ago, the Parks Department began to monitor music levels at the park with the addition of a decibel meter and additional staff. The idea of introducing decibel meters had been discussed for awhile, at least a year.

As I reported May 1st, at the last Community Board meeting addressing Washington Square Park held in April, it was officially announced that there would be additional Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers as well as a “Step Up Sergeant” introduced to the space to monitor sound levels of music via a decibel meter.

Performances and issues with sound have only become a contentious issue, it seems, since the park was redesigned.

Now, four months after the arrival of the “Step up Sergeant” (mixed feelings on the whole concept of this …), Community Board 2 will be getting an update from the Parks Department on how this has been going.

The Community Board agenda references this topic as “noise reduction.”

What do you think?


Wednesday, September 7th 6:30 p.m.
Dapolito Recreation Center, 1 Clarkson St., 3rd floor, Manhattan


  • Introduction to local group interested in improving the green way island that is located at the end of Jane and Horatio Streets at West Street.
  • Update from Green Below 14 including their Artside Program.
  • Update on noise reduction efforts at Washington Square Park.

What has your experience been with music lately at the park? Rockin? Not great? It’s all good?

Sarah Neilson Sergeant Rivera Washington Square Park
WS Park Admin Sarah Neilson, Sgt. Rivera in April

Read the original Washington Square Park Blog post:  Washington Square Park “Step Up Sergeant” Begins May 1 for Music Decibel Monitoring, More: Will This be a Good Thing? with full details on the history and plan.

An excerpt:

Will Washington Square Park Become Uber–Regimented like Madison Square Park with introduction of Park Enforcement Patrol “Step Up Sergeant?:

For a few years now, voices around Washington Square Park, some louder than others, have complained about issues at the park such as random skateboarders, bicyclists, loud music. But will these complaints, now being responded to with the addition of a Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) Step Up sergeant, lead to the unanticipated outcome of an overly regulated park?

In 2011, there was a performance crackdown at the park, and the community fiercely fought this. Curiously, since then, there have been complaints that the music has, at certain times and due to actions of a few, been too loud. Now, decibel meters are being put into play, and other rules. What will it mean long term?

At Community Board 2’s Parks Committee meeting April 6, the Parks Department presented its plan to implement the use of decibel meters to ameliorate complaints of loud music reaching across the park, drums pointed to as the primary culprit. Although the idea of decibel meters was introduced last year with the intention of being utilized last summer, the concept never ended up in play.

Washington Square Park Administrator Sarah Neilson also announced that the Parks Department will be adding a “Step Up sergeant,” Sergeant Rivera, present at the meeting, to the Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) team at Washington Square Park. The Step up sergeant is used to oversee the other PEP officers. The Deputy Inspector from the agency, who oversees the sergeants, said: “This is a model we tried at Madison Square Park and it was very successful.” He added that Sergeant Rivera is “the shining star of PEP.”

As the overly sanitized, commercialized and privatized space that Madison Square Park is, it should be noted that what would be considered “successful” there would likely be quite different from what would be successful at Washington Square Park.

Find the rest of the post here.

Photos: Cathryn

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1 thought on “The Decibel Meter Experiment at Washington Square Park: How’s it Been Going? Community Board 2 to Revisit Wed. Sept. 7”

  1. Hi,

    My husband and I having been coming to NY from Scotland,staying in the Village for the last 16 years. Over the years we have enjoyed many, many wonderful days and nights in Washington Square Park until that is a few years ago when the music became so noisy that we now no longer able to spend much time there at all. We have listened to and talked with many of the musicians over the years, sadly some have passed on, we have encouraged friends and family also to visit, enjoy the atmosphere and try and experience what we have over the years but alas no more. Loud music and drug users taking over I am very sad to say that this year when we visit I am not sure if we will enjoy any time there at all. How sad .


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