Officials said several decibel meter readings have been taken around the Village of New Paltz in order to ensure a clear and enforceable noise law. There has been concern raised by homeowners, students and police that the current law is too vague and subjective, lending itself to inconsistent enforcement. The law is currently in the process of being amended.
On Aug. 14, Chief of Police Joseph Snyder and a group of officials took sound level readings in the downtown business district. Snyder recommended that an A weighted decibel (dBA) reading of 65 at night and 75 during the day was a reasonable approach. Ambient noise was 60 dBA in the downtown district area and 45 dBA at Village Hall. Loud conversation from 75 feet away was 57 dBA, according to Mayor Terry Dungan.
The locations that were checked included McGillicuddy’s, P&G’s, Cabaloosa’s, Oasis, Snug’s, Murphy’s, the parking lot at Chase Bank and the front of the Village TeaRoom. All the bars had their doors open, which is not allowed under the current law, said Dungan. Having the doors closed significantly reduces the noise. McGillicuddy’s was at 98 dBA inside and 65 dBA 50 feet away with the doors closed.
Kevin Mueller, fifth-year math education major, said he does not see why the bars need to keep their doors closed.
“I feel like it’s asking too much of the bouncers and…would make it take so much longer for lines of people to get into the bar which in turn would result in people being loud outside,” he said.
Dungan said there are many misconceptions about the law because of inaccurate or misleading information. He said that it is important for people to realize that without a fair and precise local noise law the only recourse would be arrest for disorderly conduct under New York State penal code.
Since most complaints come from music at the bars and garbage trucks being too loud in the morning, Dungan said he does not believe it will noticeably affect students who live off campus.
“Most people don’t realize there is a noise law because it doesn’t affect their lives…the point of the amendment is to make the law more fair, more objective and more consistent in its enforcement,” he said.
Kristen Geigenberger, fourth-year art education major, lives off campus and said she agrees with the amendment being made in the noise law, because she does not like being woken up by the garbage trucks so early in the morning.
“Having garbage trucks come at a later time would be more sufficient,” she said.
Dungan said there has been a lot of input from the public. Last year there was a public hearing where more than 80 people attended, including SUNY New Paltz students, where all could give their opinions.
“The village is a great place to live and when students live off campus they really value it,” said Dungan.