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Pier 97 Concerts Blast Music Across Hudson, Tormenting New Jersey Neighbors

By Mathew Katz | July 28, 2014 7:17am
 The new concert venue at Pier 97 can hold more than 5,000 people and faces the Hudson River.
The new concert venue at Pier 97 can hold more than 5,000 people and faces the Hudson River.
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Facebook/JBL Live at Pier 97

CLINTON — They're getting a taste of the hottest acts — from their bedrooms.

A new outdoor concert venue at Pier 97 that's designed to keep noise out of Manhattan is instead sending booming music across the Hudson River, tormenting some New Jersey residents while delighting others.

Residents say it sounds like they have a front-row seat to acts like The Fray and Michael Franti even though they're in another state — with their windows closed.

"It's a pounding kind of sound," said Diane Singer, 53, who lives in the Hudson Club condo in West New York, New Jersey, across the river from Pier 97. "It's the cheering and yelling and yipping and music. It sounds like college."

Hudson River Park teamed up with Live Nation to host JBL live, a series of up to 15 concerts for the overhauled pier's inaugural year, as a way to raise money for the cash-strapped park. The Pier 97 venue, which sits at West 55th Street, holds 5,250 people and faces the water.

In June, Community Board 4 praised the venue's design, which is meant to prevent sound from booming across Manhattan. Residents who live nearby and complained of loud late-night events at Pier 92/94 nearby said they can barely hear any noise from the summer concert series.

But for people living in New Jersey, the sound begins with a mic check early in the day and can continue until 10 p.m.

"It's shockingly loud. It's very clear and loud even if I close my windows," said Eunmo Kang, who also lives at the Hudson Club. "It's very stressful and ruining my peaceful weekends."

A spokesman for the Hudson River Park Trust said that the agency was already responding to the complaints, and hoped to mitigate the noise in time for the pier's upcoming shows, including Thievery Corporation and Robyn. Seven more shows are planned before the end of the year.

"After being notified of these concerns we immediately took action to decrease sound traveling across the Hudson River including working closely with a sound expert and to remedy the issues prior to the next series of events that commence in early August," said the spokesman, David Smith, in a statement.

"We take our responsibility as an upstanding neighbor very seriously as we want this to be a venue that is enjoyed by everyone in the community, including in New Jersey."

The Trust did not immediately provide specifics on the sound-mitigation plan.

Some New Jersey residents enjoy getting to hear a sold-out concert, however, and don't want the noise to go away.

"We got to see The Fray for free — it was great!" said Karen Samiec, 55, who with dozens of others gathered on the water in West New York to catch the July 9 concert from across the river. "They start early, they end early, it brings people out there to have a good time."

Samiec said that the bigger noise problem for people living along the Hudson is helicopters buzzing by at all hours of the night, not the daytime and evening concerts.

"There's worse things in life to complain about," she said. "Life's too short."