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Selectmen Approve Amplified Sound Policy

The Selectmen amended the town's parks and recreation bylaws by including a policy on amplified sound.

Tuesday night's meeting saw the Selectmen approve a policy that deals with all manners of amplified sound in parks, playgrounds and recreation areas.

After review with Town Counsel, the Selectmen updated Rule 3 of the Rules and Regulations Relating to Parks, Playgrounds and Recreation Areas to include script regarding amplified sound.

The amended section of the bylaw that denies drinking, gambling and other illegal acts while in public parks, playgrounds and recreation areas now includes bans against “solicit[ing] the acquaintance of or annoy another person or utter any profane, threatening abusive or indecent language or loud outcry; or solicit any subscription or contribution […] or make an oration or harangue or any political or other canvass; or preach or pray aloud; or do any obscene or indecent act, except by written authority from the Recreation Committee or their designee.”

Details regarding abutters to public spaces and sound amplification were further defined in the newly written Rule 4 of the Rules and Regulations Relating to Parks, Playgrounds and Recreation Areas:

“User of public property and abutting residents should have an expectation of quiet enjoyment of the town's public parks, playgrounds, recreation and other open space areas.”

Rule 4's amendments express the recognition that the public spaces referred to, “inherently create levels of noise due to customary and usual uses such as fans cheering, referee and coach's whistles, community events, school field days, bands during football games,” etc. These inherent levels of noise do not fall under the ban mentioned above.

It was also mentioned in Rule 4's amendments that, “the use of amplified sound […] is not permitted without a permit to be granted by the Recreation Committee or other agency which has jurisdiction.”

When permitted, the use of reasonable amplified sound will be controlled by the permit holder. Unreasonable sound is determined in Rule 4 as being, “sound plainly audible at a distance of 100 feet from its source by a person of normal hearing.”

It was stated that the intent of this last rule is in special regards to the “reasonable and occasional playing of music or use of amplified sound.” However, it was noted in Rule 4 that this does not include “play by play announcements for sporting events or other repeated use of music.”

The Board of Selectmen mentioned that these new bylaws will be placed up on the Town's website in full in the upcoming weeks. 

peter lucci February 29, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Congrats go out to Mrs and Mrs Schubert for wasting so many people's time in order to get back at the fine owner of the Reading Bulldogs, keep up the mediocre work.
AnonLikeU February 29, 2012 at 09:11 PM
As soon as the policy opens with: "User of public property and abutting residents should have an expectation of quiet enjoyment of the town's public parks, playgrounds, recreation and other open space areas.” you know where it's headed. Why would an abutter to a school and/or park, and or playground, and/or recreational area, have an "expectation of quiet enjoyment"?
AnonLikeU February 29, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Just to clarify, I'm not suggeting that abutters be subject to incessant or unreasonable amounts of noise, I just don't agree with the Amplified Sound Policy definition of such. "Unreasonable sound is determined in Rule 4 as being, “sound plainly audible at a distance of 100 feet from its source by a person of normal hearing.”" 100ft is 1/3 of a football field. I mean, I think cheering or crowd clapping could be heard within 100 feet by persons of normal hearing.
peter lucci March 01, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Easy does it, Rick's bridge partner just left the Board, hope he can cope....
Karl Weld March 01, 2012 at 03:02 PM
What I find more disturbing is that it's now illegal to solicit a contribution while in a public park without permission. So much for fundraising charity events held at a town park. And what if a religious organization gets a permit from the Rec Dept. to use a park. Now they're banned from praying aloud in said park unless they get written approval from the Rec Dept? So much for the free exercise of religion. And now we're prohibited from "solicit[ing] the acquaintance of ... another person" without permission from the Rec Dept.? "Hi Neighbor, my name is X. Whoops! I didn't get permission to try and get to know you." What the...?!
peter lucci March 01, 2012 at 03:20 PM
It really is amazing Karl, just how far reaching this "policy" has become. This current BOS has cornered the market on micro managing.
Charlie March 01, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I guess parks are no longer there for fun and games, and for just enjoying the outdoors. We now live in a world where we need wriiten policies on how to use them. What social misfits are running our town? So when I go to a park these days to relieve myself of daily stresses, I now get stressed worrying if I am breaking a town parks and recreation policy! Good grief!
Charlie March 01, 2012 at 03:31 PM
And now, the BoS has formed a Sturges Park planning committee! Let's see, maybe they will take down the swing sets, remove the basketball and tennis courts, remove the softball infield, and plant wild flowers everywhere and put benches in little paths so everyone can just relax and smell the flowers. Can't wait!!!!!
Karl Weld March 01, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Here's a question: Town Day, held at the Birch Meadow complex, is a fundraising event for the Lions Club and Friends of Reading Rec. (FORR). Booth space is sold to any interested party, like the Republican & Democrat Town Committees and political candidates. Under this new policy language these groups are now banned from "solicit(ing) any subscription or contribution […] or make an oration or harangue or any political or other canvass" without written permission from the Rec Dept.? Forget the political groups. What about Creative Arts or RCASA? They can't ask for contributions without permission? This is a disaster waiting to happen.
Everett March 01, 2012 at 04:04 PM
In Rule #4, I can't believe they actually wrote the words "bands during football games". They are actually going to go after the band next and are going to try to stop them from practicing outdoors! This is BS!!! Watch out everybody. More trouble coming thanks to the Schuberts!!!!!! This nutcake has to go and now. Impeach him. He's a tyrant and a manipulator! Get him out now!!!!
CommonSenseCitizen March 01, 2012 at 06:50 PM
You can't be serious. It doesn't say that. It says you simply need permission before holding a fund raiser or having a prayer meeting in the park. You mention freedom of religion but I'm not sure you understand what that means. Your rights end where another's begin; if I am at the park I don't want to listen to you praying aloud and shouldn't have to. You shouldn't have to listen to me preaching about how there is no such thing as god. If you get permission to use the park for a prayer service, then I know not to use it at that time. See how easy that is? Is it silly that this needs to be spelled out? Sure, but don't create a straw man and exagerate the effects of this new policy.

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