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Neighbors Say Wrigley Field Construction Getting Too Noisy

By Ariel Cheung | August 6, 2015 1:32pm | Updated on August 11, 2015 10:32am
 As Wrigley Field construction continues during the baseball season, some neighbors say the Cubs aren't living up to their promise to be a good neighbor.
As Wrigley Field construction continues during the baseball season, some neighbors say the Cubs aren't living up to their promise to be a good neighbor.
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DNAinfo/Tanveer Ali

WRIGLEYVILLE — Neighbors might be willing to pardon the dust at Wrigley Field, but the jack hammer noise is a different story.

"Business should not impede our quality of life. There's no reason and no excuse that there are jack hammers and leaf blowers going off at midnight," said Wrigleyville's Terie Kata.

Along with post-game cleanup noise, Kata said noisy construction work starts before 7 a.m., violating city laws prohibiting disruptive noise between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. Also at issue is sound levels from the new video board, which Kata said disrupts neighbors even when windows are closed.

The Cubs deny any infractions of the noise ordinance, with spokesman Julian Green pointing out that construction work that doesn't exceed sound limits with heavy machinery is permitted at any time.

As for cleanup noise, Green said night games and occasional rain delays can lead to some late-night leaf blower noise, but that's better than saving the cleanup until morning, as some neighbors have proposed.

"Any suggestion that we leave garbage out in an open air stadium for 12 hours is laughable. Could you imagine the type of impact we would have on the neighborhood if we left [discarded food] sitting?" Green told DNAinfo Chicago.

Before the season began, Mayor Rahm Emanuel denied permission the Cubs sought for 24/7 construction. The harsh winter delayed construction, meaning portions of the project's first phase — mainly the bleachers — were not finished in time for Opening Day.

Since then, the Cubs dealt with a flood of complaints regarding a loud sound system that reverberated mainly south of the ballpark. Green said after tweaks to the noise levels, complaints to the Cubs have mostly tapered off.

"So far we've mitigated the large part of the issue, although we continue to try to see how we could lessen the impact around the neighborhood," Green said.

Noise complaints sent to Ald. Tom Tunney's office (44th) have also "largely subsided," said spokeswoman Erin Duffy.

With the first construction-adjacent season halfway over and at least four more to go, neighbors are scrambling to get issues corrected. A Wrigley Field construction committee formed through the Lake View Citizens Council is meeting monthly with the Cubs and city officials to address concerns.

"It's not lost on us that this season has been painful, but some things we have to take as they come, and some are beyond our control," Heather Way Kitzes told neighbors. Way Kitzes, who handles neighborhood relations for the Cubs, said problems like traffic control and 311 calls going unanswered were "probably equally frustrating" for the Cubs as for neighbors.

Despite the meetings, Kata said things are not improving, blasting the city for making "no effort to stop the offensive activity." During a Tuesday meeting of East Lake View Neighbors, some said they were getting the runaround from Tunney, the Cubs, police and traffic management.

"Other construction projects can't get away with all the infringements — why is the city turning a blind eye to the Wrigley construction project?" Kata asked.

To Way Kitzes credit, she's "doing her best" to get problems fixed, Kata said. Tunney is also working on solutions, his office said Wednesday.

"Our office continues to work with the Cubs, the [committee], neighbors and businesses to ensure that everyone is informed of upcoming work in and around Wrigley Field and to help address any concerns as they arise," Duffy said in an email.

With neighbors and fans supporting Wrigley Field remaining in Wrigleyville and four more years of construction ahead, Green said some allowances must be made.

"At the end of the day, this is a three-acre ballpark that sits in the middle of a dense neighborhood with some houses 100 feet away. So when talking about a more than half-billion dollar construction project and 81 games a year, there are going to be some sound issues," Green said.


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