By Gabriela Resto-Montero
UPPER EAST SIDE — A new $250,000 sound system for Central Park’s SummerStage concert series this year is giving back some peace and quiet to its Fifth Avenue neighbors.
The 2010 season of the free concert series at Rumsey Playfield, between East 69th and East 70th Streets, in the park will feature a new targeted sound system designed to rock for concert-goers, but leave residents undisturbed.
"We heard from some people that during the concerts, the noise was disturbing their peace and quiet, so we worked with SummerStage and the City Parks Foundation to address the issue," City Councilman Dan Garodnick said.
The new Line-Array System pinpoints sound more directly towards the audience and minimizes the ambient sound that spilled over into the neighborhood, said David Rivel, executive director of the City Parks Foundation.
At a test run of the new system earlier this month, Rivel said neighbors responded positively to the muted music.
"You could hear some faint bass thump with the windows closed," he said. "People said it was less annoying."
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's office paid for the new sound system, Rivel said.
A spokeswoman for Stringer's office said the funds for the speakers came from their Capital Program funding. The grants are cleared each year through a budget selection process, spokeswoman Carmen Boon said.
Over the years, SummerStage organizers have tried to minimize the sound by installing sound baffling on the roof of the stage and putting a sound-absorbing curtain behind the performers, Rivel said. Concert planners also limited music to four hours a day and shut off all sound after 10 p.m. to reduce noise in the neighborhood, he said.
Artists including R&B singer Raphael Saadiq, reggae star Jimmy Cliff and electronica band The Pinker Tones are all lined up to perform at SummerStage this year.
Other performances will feature comedy from the cast of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and a dance performance by the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.