Bangor waterfront improving noise issues one decible at a time

The Bangor Waterfront is the venue for concerts throughout the year helping to sustain Bangor’s economy, but not without residential complaints.

In 2005, The American Folk Festival was held at the waterfront, beginning an era of events being hosted on the banks of the Penobscot River.

“The Folk Festival has been a catalyst for waterfront concerts,” said council chair and ceremonial mayor Ben Sprague.

The waterfront hosts festivals and artists from all genres of music, bring people to Bangor from all over the state and country, but leaving some residents unhappy with the noise the venue creates.

In 2011, the waterfront hosted Bumstock music festival that brought in 16 noise complaints throughout the night.

“We had 16 [calls] between 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.,” said Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards.

Noise is measured in decibels, a unit that measures the density of sound.

“On site [for the 2011 festival] we’re around 100 decibels and around Shaw’s supermarket across the street it’s around 90,” said Waterfront Concerts promoter, Alex Grey.

The Bangor Daily News reported that, according the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, average rock concerts gives off about 110 and 140 decibels of noise.

At the source, total silence measures 0 dB, a normal conversation is 60 dB, a car horn is 110 dB and a gunshot or firecracker measures in at about 140 dB.

“With the Waterfront concerts, I would say well over half the population is okay with the noise,” said Sprague, but with the 2014 concert season approaching, Grey and Bangor officials are working to make the noise less of an issue for the residents surrounding the venue.

Grey has agreed to decrease the sound cap for the upcoming concerts by 5 db. Regardless of some animosity toward the concerts, the future of waterfront concerts seems sound.

“We are not going to shut down waterfront concerts…the economic effect on Bangor has been too great,” said Sprague.