This week, like every week before it, someone took to the internet to complain. This time it was about music playing on speakers (not instruments) in the city's parks—"No one appreciates your music," an irate Reddit poster declared. "Get the fuck out of the park."
The Redditor was specifically addressing "the manchildren who circle Tompkins Square Park blasting music from their fat-tire electric bikes" who "volunteer DJ to a hundred jaded sunbathers." I have never witnessed this, so cannot attest to how annoying it may be. However, I have been to Tompkins Square Park many times and not one of those times did I go expecting peace and quiet. It's a small park in the middle of the East Village, not a sandy, secluded beach in the Exumas.
Sitting in a park like this is like sitting in a real life mock-up of a park; a model park, if you will, but with many more rats. There are patches of grass and other features resembling nature, but not enough to fully immerse you in a rustic outdoor experience. You are, after all, encircled by four streets in New York City. And all the while, New Yorkers are shuffling by, carrying with them some good ol' fashioned New York noise. As it should be — this place was never meant to provide you with precious Forest Bathing vibes; you just gotta embrace the clatter.
The curmudgeonly Redditor ideated on how to get rid of these impromptu DJs, namely via the use of airhorns, megaphones, or a petition (lol). But the East Village noise surrounding this park is part of its goddamn charm. If you don't like it, go to Prospect Park, or Central Park, or any very large park, perhaps the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, and find a nice secluded spot away from other humans.
Sure, there are noise codes in NYC that would land on the side of the noise complainer—the DEP and NYPD are theoretically responsible for enforcing a citywide noise code, which also applies to parks. Additionally, according to NYC Parks rules:
- Park goers may not cause unreasonable noise, meaning excessive or unusually loud noise that causes public inconvenience, annoyance or harm.
- 10 p.m. - 8 a.m. are quiet hours in all parks, during which patrons cannot play a musical instrument, radio, or any other device for producing sound.
- Patrons may not make noise for advertising or commercial purposes unless authorized by permit.
- In accordance with the above, park goers can use speakers, boomboxes and instruments as long as they are not unreasonably disturbing other patrons and it is not during quiet hours.
These rules may vary in specialized areas, but that's the gist. And if you are summonsed, penalties for noise-related violations include a $50 fine for unreasonable noise, $140 for playing instrument/radio, etc. during unauthorized hours, and a whopping $500 for unauthorized music or noise for advertising/commercial purposes. And if you play the trumpet poorly, this guy will find you and destroy you.
These rules are difficult to enforce, and that's fine, let New York City be noisy... but nothing is stopping you from complaining (as long as it's not a dog noise you're grousing about, because according to the Parks Dept., "You can report non-emergency noise coming from a park, except for noise from a dog."). What will happen when you lodge a complaint? Mostly you'll have wasted everyone's time and expended your own energy on being angry over something small. But officially, "Officers from the local police precinct respond to those noise complaints when they are not handling emergencies, [and] will be able to take action if the noise is still happening when they arrive."
A Parks Dept. spokesperson said that so far this year they've logged 209 service requests regarding noise-related issues. They could not immediately provide information on how many (if any) summonses have been issued for noise violations in parks.
N.B.: These opinions do not apply to anyone who brings a tinny-sounding bluetooth speaker to a picnic. Those things should be banned from public spaces.