Marymoor concert organizers strive to keep a handle on sound levels

While last summer's Marymoor Park Concerts series attracted thousands of music lovers to the King County venue near Redmond, not everyone was a fan.

While last summer’s Marymoor Park Concerts series attracted thousands of music lovers to the King County venue near Redmond, not everyone was a fan.

The series — and two concerts featuring one artist in particular — brought on a number of complaints from area community members, citing the noise levels as too high and disturbing nearby residents.

Since then, the county has worked with the City of Redmond as well as concert promoter AEG Live to come up with solutions on how to make the upcoming concert series, which begins Friday with The Lumineers, enjoyable for everyone.

On May 26, a community open house was held at Marymoor Park to give people the opportunity to tour the venue as well as learn about the measures being taken to mitigate neighbors’ concerns regarding concert noise and traffic issues.

According to a King County press release, the meeting was one of several actions that the promoter, city and county are taking during this year’s concert series in response to complaints that some concert sound levels were too loud and that traffic in the community on concert dates was significantly affecting neighbors.

“The community meeting was a wonderful event and great start to the season,” said Rob Thomas, regional vice president for AEG. “We truly value our neighbors, the City of Redmond and King County Parks. Thank you to all that attended and worked on it.”

Kevin Brown, King County Parks director, said the main purpose of the meeting was to work with the community, letting neighbors know not just what is being done but also what they can and should do if concerns crop up during this upcoming series.

He said if someone wants to log a complaint during a concert, the current policy is that they should call 911 and dispatch will connect them with the King County Sheriff’s Office, who will then contact the park supervisor on duty. If someone wishes to log a complaint after a concert, Brown said they can call or email Norah Robinson at (206) 477-7378 or Norah.Robinson@kingcounty.gov.

The May 26 meeting was also an opportunity to give people a heads up for when there would be concerts as well as who would be performing, Brown said.

“We are committed to being good neighbors, and we’ve taken these concerns to heart,” he said in the release. “Fortunately, we have a strong partnership with the City of Redmond and AEG, and working together we have developed solutions to these issues for the 2016 series.”

Brown told the Reporter that county staff worked with AEG and city staff over the winter to come up with some solutions.

Those solutions include changing the type of speakers artists will use. Brown said all performers will use the same speaker system, provided through the promoter, that will direct the sound down toward the ground — which will better absorb sound — rather than out into the surrounding neighborhoods.

In addition, he said during sound checks before shows, artists will receive feedback on their noise levels and receive a copy of the venue’s sound policy. The press release states that performers will be notified if they are out of compliance with the policy.

AEG has also hired staff to work with the artists to ensure consistent sound levels, Brown said.

According to the press release, Brown and other King County Parks officials, along with AEG, recently met with Redmond city staff to provide them with the complete list of mitigation actions – and to explore additional mitigation actions. These efforts were presented at the Redmond City Council meeting on May 17.

“We work hard to make (the concert series) a community asset,” Brown told the Reporter.

Community members have raised their concerns regarding the sound levels of concerts at Marymoor Park on occasion, but Brown said out of the 22 concerts held last year, there was one artist in particular that brought on several calls.

As previously reported, following the two concerts featuring Sublime with Rome, the City of Redmond received six complaints by email and the Redmond Police Department logged 14 complaints in its dispatch records.

Brown said they have declined to allow the band to come back and play at Marymoor Park again.

In addition to the actions being taken for this upcoming concert series, the press release states that there will be long-term improvements at the park to help mitigate noise levels. One of those improvements is planting trees north of the concert venue to help serve as a sound buffer.

King County and AEG have also agreed to consider sound mitigation as part of the decision-making process in any future capital improvement projects.

Regarding traffic, the county, city and Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) have developed several traffic flow options to ease traffic congestion immediately before and after a Marymoor concert. These will be tested during the first few shows of the 2016 season and permanently implemented if successful.

King County Parks and the City of Redmond are also exploring placing temporary or permanent reader boards with concert and event alert information on West Lake Sammamish Parkway.

“King County’s plan to mitigate noise and traffic is a great first step in addressing Redmond residents’ concerns during the Marymoor concert season,” said Redmond Mayor John Marchione in the release. “We appreciate the efforts that King County and AEG have made to work together to respond to our concerns.”

King County, Redmond and AEG are also partnering on community communications, including providing information to neighbors about concerts and other events at Marymoor Park, the release states. Visit the Marymoor Park website at kingcounty.gov/marymoor, and click on the “Subscribe” link to receive text message or email alerts.

The full concert series is:

June 3, 4 and 5 – The Lumineers

June 15 – Slightly Stoopid

June 16 – Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

June 22 – Flight of the Conchords

June 23 – Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals

June 26 – Seattle Symphony

July 15 – Die Antwoord

July 16 – Barenaked Ladies

July 22 – The String Cheese Incident

July 23 – Willie Nelson and Family

July 29 – Weezer and Panic! At the Disco

July 30 – An Evening with The Piano Guys

Aug. 5 – Rebelution

Aug. 13 and 14 – KNDD Summer Camp

Aug. 20 – Fitz and the Tantrums

Aug. 27 – I love the 90s, featuring Salt-N-Peppa

Sept. 1 – Needtobreathe