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Rowdy Adult Sports Leagues Keep Chelsea Residents Awake, They Say

By Mathew Katz | December 13, 2013 10:41am
 Locals say games at the Bayard Rustin Educational Complex are keeping them awake at night.
Locals say games at the Bayard Rustin Educational Complex are keeping them awake at night.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

CHELSEA — Residents are crying foul after they say adult sports leagues have turned their quiet Chelsea block into a stadium.

The top-floor gymnasium at the Bayard Rustin Educational Complex — on the corner of West 19th Street and Ninth Avenue — faces several multi-million-dollar townhouses and at nights is used by adult sports leagues.

They include Gotham Volleyball, the city's biggest gay volleyball league, and NY Coed Soccer.

The complex houses five high schools and a middle school and relies on the league fees for much-needed extra cash. But, according to locals, noise from the games — including cheering, whistling and shouting — echoes up and down the block, keeping children awake at night. 

The block association that represents West 18th and 19th streets has collected more than 70 signatures on a petition asking the leagues to quiet down — and the school to shut the windows when games are on.

"It's like living next to a stadium. It's like there's a game in my bedroom," said block association president Laura Evans, who added that the seven-day-a-week noise dates back at least 11 years, when she moved into the area.

"The cheering, the whistles, the screaming, the sneakers. It's all bad."

Gotham Volleyball, which has been using the gym on nights and weekends for games since 1981, said about 850 people come to play throughout the week. League commissioner Lew Smith said that players close the windows to the gym at 9 p.m., cutting down on noise.

Games and practices typically last until 10:30 p.m. or 11 p.m.

"We have a policy about window closures," Smith said. "On any given night, there are 16 people playing at once — it's not like it's a big mob or anything like that."

Smith said that his league pays about $60,000 per year in fees, which goes directly to the complex's custodial budget.

Neighbors said that Gotham's leadership has been helpful in dealing with complaints, but other leagues that use the school's gym don't follow the rules, leaving the windows open to cool down sweaty athletes.

The school itself has been unresponsive — to the point that neither the block association nor Community Board 4 knows exactly which other leagues use the gym, they said.

"We couldn't get any help from the school, and we're willing to work with them," said Dr. Leonard Farber, a radiation oncologist who lives across the street from the school.

"We’re all taxpayers, we own our property, we don’t utilize the school — they need to respect the community like we respect the school."

The Department of Education did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for NY Coed Soccer declined to comment. 

"We want to figure out some way we can all live peacefully," Smith said. "We feel as much a part of the community as our neighbors."

The block association has already requested the help of the community board, in the hopes of a dialogue with the other leagues — and even potentially convincing the school to implement more soundproofing. 

"We're not looking to ask the league to stop coming — though it would be a great solution if they did," Evans said. "We're just looking to find a compromise."