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Loud, late-night concerts at Hartwood Acres irks neighbors

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Thursday, Aug. 9, 2007

Walter Blenko doesn't have to leave his home to hear concerts at Hartwood Acres amphitheatre -- he often hears them in his living room.

"I have no problem with the county using the park in a responsible way. I don't think it's responsible to push all of their program over on the rest of us," said Blenko, 81, whose home sits back from Middle Road across from the venue.

"One of the things we simply cannot do is sit out on our porch on a Sunday night while this is going on," he said.

Concerns about noise from Hartwood aren't new. But complaints about hearing noise from a recent weekend blues festival on the opposite side of Route 8 has council considering an ordinance that would require Allegheny County to obtain a permit for Hartwood concerts that charge admission fees, Council President Victor Son said.

"On Saturday night and Sunday night you could hear the music rather clearly. That's what kind of heightened everyone's attention," said Son, who heard the music at his home about two or three miles away. "When you can hear guitar licks pretty clearly, that tells me the volume was a little bit too excessive."

County spokesman Kevin Evanto said the township would have no jurisdiction over the county.

"We're more than willing to talk with the township and the neighbors. We pride ourselves on being good neighbors and good partners," he said.

The Pittsburgh Blues Festival, held July 20-22, raised money for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Admission was $25 at the gate. Most concerts, held from June through August, are free and held on Sundays. Donations are requested for the annual Allegheny County Music Festival, held this year on July 29.

Son said requiring a permit would enable the township to restrict noise levels and enforce them.

"We've spent years having meetings and having discussions and having residents meet with them," he said. "The bottom line is, often we don't get the follow-through we've been promised. It's time to do something."

Evanto said the county agreed to end concerts no later than 10 p.m., but Blenko said music was played until 10:45 p.m. on July 21.

Blenko said at least half of the concerts are problematic. It's possible for the sound level to be controlled, because some blues performers played at a lower level, he said.

"They know they can do it, they just don't want to be bothered."

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