Columnists

We’re Back to Square One

When I took over Jerry Snyder’s column space in the Times 12 years ago, I made a conscious decision to emulate her conversational style and — especially — her positive outlook.

Occasionally, however, something really wrong arises that affects the community as a whole and I feel obligated to speak up about it.

When I heard the Sept. 30 Noblesville High School football game, I knew it was time for another of THOSE columns.

In 2005, NHS installed a new sound system at the old football field. I spent the next eight years asking them to lower the volume of that system to a reasonable level.

The responses I received from various school administrators during that time ranged from ignoring my complaints, to paying lip service to them (they once took decibel readings AFTER they lowered the volume to the point I couldn’t even hear the game,) to essentially telling me they were Noblesville High School and could do as they pleased.

Oh, they didn’t use those words, but their message was clear. They felt their games were more important than the lives of the people in the area affected by their noise pollution.

Don’t get me wrong. They need their public address system. They just don’t need to broadcast it to everyone in what newcomers call “Old Town.” (For people who’ve been here as long as I have it’s simply “town.”)

I didn’t get any cooperation on this issue until Dr. Beth Niedermeyer became the superintendent in 2014. Although there were a few times I still felt the p.a. system was too loud, in general it remained tolerable because she was willing to work with me.

Now that Dr. Niedermeyer has retired, it appears we’re back to square one.

The only change I’ve noticed since I complained about the September 30 game is that last Saturday morning’s game was twice as loud as previous Saturday games. To add insult to injury, the announcer blared loud music whenever he couldn’t come up with something to say.

Wow. They sure showed me.

Thanks to my own alma mater, I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about the serious damage noise pollution can cause.

Physically, it can affect your hearing, your sleep, your heart rate, your blood pressure, and it can elevate stress hormones — among other things. It can also impact your mental health.

Contrary to what you may believe, the effects don’t stop once the noise ends. One year it was Christmas before I quit feeling like punching somebody in the nose as soon as I woke up each morning.

As a writer, I work at home and don’t keep banker’s hours. I used to fantasize about doing things like cranking up my car radio as loud as it would go and parking it outside the school administration building so they’d know what it was like to try to concentrate while being exposed to that much noise.

It’s a fantasy because under the city noise ordinance individuals can be fined for doing things like that. Community events, on the other hand, have no limits.

I get that. You don’t want a parade interrupted by a policeman writing a noise citation. Unfortunately, your body can’t distinguish between legal noise and illegal noise. The damage is the same.

Our only defense against the excessive noise produced by events like the football games is to speak up and make the people in charge aware they’ve overstepped their bounds.

Experience has shown you can’t depend on their good will and good sense.

If you’ve been affected by the football field’s outrageous noise levels, you need to let the school superintendent, Dr. Daniel Hile, know. (daniel_hile@ nobl.k12.in.us; 317-773-3171, ext. 10500; or 18025 River Road, Noblesville, IN 46062.)

Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears on Wednesdays in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com